It took six years from approval to completion and now the Town of Carolina Beach has completed a 1.2 mile Island Greenway consisting of a 10-foot wide multi-use asphalt path. An official ribbon cutting ceremony was held during "Party in the Park" at Mike Chappel Park at 501 Dow Road on Saturday April 20th. It took six years from approval to completion and now the Town of Carolina Beach has completed a 1.2 mile Island Greenway consisting of a 10-foot wide multi-use asphalt path. An official ribbon cutting ceremony was held during "Party in the Park" at Mike Chappel Park at 501 Dow Road on Saturday April 20th.


By / Local News / Wednesday, 01 January 2020 01:26

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 Two of a two-part look at stories in 2019:

Major Changes For Freeman Park In 2019

CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach held a public hearing on November 13th, to discuss potential changes for rules governing Freeman Park. The Council agreed to leave the rules unchanged but decided to restrict camping to the off-season months.

The Council discussed changes to rules for Freeman Park during their October 22nd, workshop meeting.

Freeman Park, located beyond the end of Canal Drive in Carolina Beach has been a popular destination for four wheel drive enthusiasts for many years.

The Town of Carolina Beach manages the area as a park and charges for vehicle access and camping permits.

The cost for the 2019 annual vehicle permit is $200 per vehicle. Daily passes are $40. Daily holiday passes are $60. Camping is permitted for a charge of $30 per night and reservations are required.

The changes proposed by Interim Town Manager Ed Parvin concern vehicle access fees, hours of operation and restricting camping to the off-season months. Another option proposed is to ban alcohol consumption within the park.

Freeman Park is largely outside of the Town's jurisdiction. The Town owns the first 1,000 feet beyond of the end of Canal Drive. After that, parcels are privately owned. Private properties west of the front of the dune line are considered private while any portion of a property located east of the front of the dune line is open to public use under State Law as a public-trust  area. That includes the dry sand beach east to the high water mark. The wet sand beach belongs to the State of North Carolina. The Town has authority to manage the public-trust beach as a park. That was granted to them by the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners some years ago. There is a fee charged for vehicle access to drive on the beach front within the park. The Town doesn't charge people a fee to walk into the park. They can only charge for four-wheel drive vehicle access. The Town has the authority under State Law to “regulate, restrict and prohibit” vehicles driving on the dry sand beach within the public-trust area.

Parvin explained, "We are at that point in the season where we need to get rules in place so we can go ahead and start planning and [printing] passes, whatever we need to do for Freeman Park."

He said Town staff have met with Lanier Parking - the company that manages the entrance to the park - and members of the Park Committee and came up with proposed changes.

Parvin said, "The first one is a big one, which is going to just a daily pass. Off-season sales, we would change that to $20 in the off-season and then if you want to camp, $50 in the off-season. In season, we would not have camping  and it would be $40 per day and for holidays we actually reduced that cost from $60 down to $50."

Earlier this year the Town had to close a large portion of the park due to tidal erosion creating a narrow area that vehicles could not traverse. The Town set a limit on the number of vehicles that could enter the park which led to complaints from people that purchased annual passes.

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said, "We had a substantial increase in this year's budget projected revenues. Part of the problem that I have... understanding is we deal with a fiscal year which is July 1st through June 31st but we deal on an annual pass which is January 1st through December 31st" and, "We upped the budget this year to $1.9 million dollars in projected revenue for the 19-20 budget. So we are half way through that year. We've completed the majority of the summer season. What will happen is in December we [sell] the early bird annual passes. In December, January and February we sell the rest of the season passes and that generates a big chunk of revenue. We need to see a month over month comparison like you did before. How did we finish the season since we started making the changes and we lost opportunity to open the park. We had already sold the annual passes. We had some day pass changes. I'm trying to get a handle on what's our impact going to be on that $1.9 million. Are we going to get  a million, lose $1.2?"

Shuttleworth said the Town has decreased expenses at the park such as reducing the number of portable toilets, the amount of trash the Town did not have to pick up due to closing areas of the park and, "I really need to understand the income and expense projections because everyone says you're going to lose $1.9 million in revenue. We are not going to lose all the revenue. Our cost go down and it's not been pure revenue. We have huge expenses related to Freeman Park. We closed the gap this year. Instead of taking money out of savings, on paper we closed the gap by increasing our Freeman Park revenue. So bringing those down to a realistic number so the Council understands where the impacts to our budgets are going to be is important for me to be able to make a decision."

He said the annual pass is important for people that visit the park on a regular basis and being charged $40 per day will quickly add up verses the current cost of an annual pass. He stated, "They are coming out to watch the sunset or a two hour walk. To gig them $40 every time. We have to keep some affordability in there."

Council member Leann Pierce said she doesn't agree with eliminating annual passes stating, "That's not going to work. And have you done any proactive things like poll the public and say would you buy it again. Everybody I've asked has said yes I would. Why wouldn't you sell the annual passes which is where the majority of our revenue comes from and then limit the day passes as needed."

Shuttleworth said placing a disclaimer on the annual pass stating that closures may be required throughout the season due to erosion alerts people at the point of purchase.

Parvin also proposed limiting camping to the off-season months - October 1 – March 31 - and to delineate an area on the beach where camping can occur. Camp fires would also be limited to off-season months. He said the need to close the park at times earlier this summer resulted in camping reservation cancellations. Limiting camping and camp fires to the off-season would help protect the sand dunes and would allow the park to accommodate more beach patrons in the summer without designated camping during the summer season.

Parvin explained another option is to limit hours of operation for the park. For in-season (April 1 – September 30) hours for vehicles could be 6:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. During the off-season  (October 1 – March 31) access would be allowed 24 hours a day.

Parvin said another option is to prohibit the consumption of alcohol by changing the rules in the park to match the long standing prohibition on the beach strand within the Town's corporate limits.

Shuttleworth said, "Personally, I think we should have a standard policy from one end of Carolina Beach to the other on the beach strand" and, "I would love to hear from the public, the police and the Council, but I would be in favor of saying we have one rule on the sand. It's the same where ever you are on Pleasure Island from Kure Beach  north. Kure Beach has the same rule don't they?"

Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach both prohibit alcohol use on the beach.

During the November 19th, meeting, the Council repeated their desire to prohibit camping during the busy summer months due to concerns of overcrowding in close proximity to vehicle traffic on the narrow beach front within the park. Camping will be allowed from the Friday before Memorial Day weekend through Sunday of Labor Day weekend. Sleeping in a vehicle and/or overnight camping is not allowed.

From Labor Day night through the Thursday before Memorial Day, sleeping in a vehicle or overnight camping is allowed in designated camping areas. Reservations are required. All campsites shall be established between Marker D and Marker Z.

Also, for day visits. Day tents, canopies, and other similar devices are allowed all year long, on the beach except in travel lanes, wet sand area, or within ten feet of the dune or the vegetation line. All day tents, canopies and other similar devices must be removed prior to by 10:00pm each night or may be removed by the town.

Small campfires are allowed at Freeman Park from October 1 through March 31 beginning at Marker F and extending north to the end of the park The campfire must be contained within a fire pit or container that may not exceed three feet in diameter. Each fire pit must be brought into the park by the visitor and shall be removed following its use.

New Island Greenway Open In Carolina Beach

CAROLINA BEACH - It took six years from approval to completion and now the Town of Carolina Beach has completed a 1.2 mile Island Greenway consisting of a 10-foot wide multi-use asphalt path.

The Town Council voted to approve the route of  a 1.2 mile long "Island Greenway" multi-use bicycle and pedestrian path during their March 10th, 2015 meeting. The project is funded by local tax dollars and federal and state grants.

Delays were largely due to a complicated design process and awaiting approvals from the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army.

Construction began in January 2018, and was planned for completion by September 2018. The project was finally completed earlier this month.

One last minute delay involved installation of a fence. Poles of the wrong size were installed and now the contractor has to replace them at their cost.

Project Manager Jerry Haire explained, "They initially put in 2” diameter poles. The spec. called for 23/8” diameter so they’re replacing at their cost. I think you’ll be seeing more activity."

The 1.2 mile paved 10’ multi-use path borders residential neighborhoods such as Carolina Sands and land owned by the U.S. Army's Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point (MOTSU) from Mike Chappel Park on Dow Road south to Alabama Avenue.

Since the path is located on Army property, the Town was required to enter a lease agreement which included a requirement to install a fence. In 2015 Council selected a six-foot tall chain link fence topped with bard wire per the Army's specifications. The fence would prevent people from climbing over and trespassing on military land. In recent months residents living along the path became concerned when installation of the fence began.

The Council heard concerns from residents via emails sent to Town Hall and at the Council's August 14th, 2018 meeting.

Many residents urged the Town to select a different type of fence without bard wire on top because many felt the fence looked like something often seen at a prison.

The Council directed the Town Manager and staff to research other options that would be more aesthetically pleasing. Work on the fence was placed on hold during that time. The Council ultimately selected a more aesthetically pleasing black metal fence without bard wire on top.

The original budget for a bard wire fence along the path was $81,151.  The cost for the new fence without the bard wire is $176,123. Part of the bard wire fence had already been installed and had to be removed prior to installation of the more expensive style fence.

Use of the trail is strictly limited to bicycles and pedestrians - no motorized vehicles of any kind including golf carts.

An official ribbon cutting ceremony was held during "Party in the Park" at Mike Chappel Park at 501 Dow Road on Saturday April 20th.

Parents Request Council Work With Sheriff To Keep School Resource Officer At Elementary School

CAROLINA BEACH - In February 2019, the Carolina Beach Police Department lost four more police officers following the departure of two other officers in prior months. Throughtout 2019, other officiers resigned.

One of the officers that resigned was Corporal Stewart Henderson who had served as the designated school resource officer (SRO) at the Carolina Beach Elementary School since 2013. He went to work for the New Hanover County Sheriff's Department in February.

During a meeting of the Carolina Beach Town Council on February 12th, residents and students of Carolina Beach Elementary  spoke in favor of the Town working with the Sheriff's Office to place Henderson back at the school to continue serving as a SRO officer.

Henderson is a popular role model for the kids, patrolling the school from open to close and spending a lot of his extra time away from duty with the students, following some up to the junior high and high school level, volunteering his time for sporting events and coordinating with School Resource Officers at those schools to make sure the people he's invested his elementary school years with are still doing well.

On Monday February 4th, Henderson said he took a position at another law enforcement agency because, "The direction of the department wasn't in line with my career goals. So I'm seeking other opportunities with another agency and will be going to work at the New Hanover County Sheriff's Department in the School Resource Officer (SRO) Unit."

He explained, "I'll be doing the same thing just at a different place with more opportunities to grow and will be working at Noble Middle School." He said his last day with the Carolina Beach Police Department was February 15th.

On Tuesday February 5th, Police Chief Chris Spivey explained, "Cpl. Stewart Henderson began his career with the Carolina Beach Police Department in 03/12/2007. For years, Cpl. Henderson worked as a Uniform Patrol Officer and Freeman Park Beach Officer."

Spivey explained, "On 07/24/2013, Cpl. Henderson became Carolina Beach’s first dedicated School Resource Officer (SRO) assigned to Carolina Beach Elementary School. It is well known Stewart has a special understanding of youths in various age ranges. Almost instantly, many recognized Cpl. Henderson’s positive impact on the school. He truly has a passion for his profession with an emphasis on school/law enforcement relationships and safety. His time as a School Resource Officer helped showcase his desire and skills to help our community. On 08/17/2015, Ofc. Henderson attained the rank of Corporal which lead to management opportunities. Cpl. Henderson has accomplished many goals while serving Carolina Beach. While this is by no means a complete list, some of the most notable are managing the Carolina Beach Bike Rodeo, interacting with the local scout groups, networking with the Child Protective Team, serving as a certified law enforcement trainer, digital records manager and liaison with the 911 Center."

He explained, "As Cpl. Henderson explores other professional opportunities, let it be known he will be greatly missed. We are all aware of the special relationships he shares with the school-based community and Carolina Beach as a whole. Cpl. Henderson’s boots will be hard to fill. He not only set the bar for this community’s SRO position, he invented it. Best of luck to Cpl. Stewart Henderson."

When asked if the department will place another officer at the Carolina Beach Elementary School, Spivey said, "It is our intent to provide as much school coverage as possible until we complete an internal process toward a permanent replacement."

The Carolina Beach Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) posted a notice on their Facebook page on Monday stating, "Our school is losing one terrific guy next week, as Officer Henderson has taken a job with the New Hanover County Sheriff's Department. So many of our students, parents and staff members have been lucky to share the building with this guy over the past few years. Next Thursday, February 14 (Valentine's Day), we will be taking the day to SHARE THE LOVE with Officer Henderson, as the following day will be his last at CBES. Please take the time to stop by that day and wish him well, give him a hug (he'd also be happy to accept large monetary donations, delicious baked goods or a yacht :-) and share the love with a man who has done so much for our community."

During the Council's February 12th, meeting Police Advisory Committee member Debra Lecompte spoke in favor of finding a way to keep Henderson at the school.

She explained, "Stewart Henderson is our current SRO at Carolina Beach Elementary School and he will be leaving us. I'm here tonight to make a request. What is a hero. A hero is a person who gives all of himself or herself to those around them for no other reason than love. They show up to soccer games, t-ball games, school dances, they organize special events for our youth, they coach our youth, they teach our youth, they mentor our youth and they encourage our youth while instilling trust in our youth. They are icons. They are treasurers that we must protect and they are the Stewart Henderson's of the world. I for one believe this world needs more Stewart Hendersons and I'm here tonight to encourage this Council to collectively recommend to Sheriff McMahon that he please consider keeping Stewart as the SRO at Carolina Beach Elementary School."

Police Advisory Committee member Melanie Boswell explained, "I come to you today and ask that you collectively go to Sheriff McMahon and ask that he allow Corporal Stewart Henderson to remain as our School Resource Officer at Carolina Beach Elementary School even if that means we as a Town fund that officer. You can't replace what he brings to this community. He is a gem. The amount of personal time he spends supporting these kids in this community is something that I haven't seen before and I'm at most of these events and he's always there. He protects the two most valuable things in this community which is our kids and our educators. The kids at Carolina Beach, they are good kids. They learn at an early age to respect police officers and that police officers are here to help them. It takes a village and he's a major part of our village. One of the things that draws families to Carolina Beach now is the reputation that our school has and I strongly believe a lot of that is due to officer Henderson. When you drop your kids off at school, we don't worry as a lot of communities do, because our children safe. Officer Henderson would do anything to protect anyone on that property. So today I'm asking you to please do everything to keep him as our SRO at Carolina Beach Elementary School."

Boswell then read a letter from her daughter encouraging the Council to keep Henderson at the school.

New Hanover County Sheriff's Office said they would add Carolina Beach Elementary School to their SRO program on a rotation patrols schedule that is already in place for all County Schools so there is an SRO presence at Carolina Beach Elementary on a daily basis.

Mayor Joe Benson explained, "I promise I will call the Sheriff tomorrow and do whatever we can. We know how important he is to you all and to the community."

Council Votes To Lift Ban On People Wearing Thongs

CAROLINA BEACH - Thongs are legal. The Carolina Beach Town Council discussed amending the Town's code of ordinances regarding public nudity during their Tuesday August 13th, meeting and voted to remove a ban prohibiting thongs.

According to Miles Murphy - Town Planner - due to a 1998 court case, it has been determined cities and towns can not ban people from wearing thongs on the beach because under state law it is legal to expose "buttocks".

A local resident sent an  unsigned email to Carolina Beach Police Chief Chris Spivey on June 21st, requesting the Town enforce a law banning "public nudity" when people wear thongs or similar swimsuits that show exposed "buttocks."

In the email the resident explained, "I am a tax paying resident of Carolina Beach and am very concerned that our beaches are turning into non-family friendly environments with displays of public nudity by all the thong swimsuits that are showing up on the beaches. According to Code 1986 11-72 Ord. No.06-658, 11-14-2006 Sec.-166 - Public Nudity, it  is illegal to expose to the view of others pubic area, pubic hair, anus, or BUTTOCKS with less than a fully opaque covering. In other words thong and similar swimsuits being worn on the beach with most or all of the buttocks being exposed are against the law.  I would request that your department start patrolling the beach regularly and enforcing this Ordinance on those that are demanding to expose themselves illegally and indecently to the public who are just trying to enjoy a day on the beach."

The person wrote, "Unfortunately, your first stop needs to be with the female lifeguards who are wearing indecent swimsuits with half of their buttocks exposed - they are in clear violation of the code and this needs to be addressed and corrected immediately. Chris,  I am sure you remember the days not so long ago where Carolina Beach was considered across our State and other neighboring States as a rough destination that was not family or children friendly."

The resident wrote, "We have done a tremendous job in rebuilding a reputation and adding family and children oriented attractions to make Carolina Beach a popular vacation destination, but we are in jeopardy of losing that again if we don't start enforcing our nudity codes - as evidenced by what can be seen on the beach now daily, if we give an inch they will take a mile and thongs become the norm only to run our families away.  Of course, in the long-term this negatively impacts all of our property values and drives away residents as well as tourists. I ask that you personally get involved in seeing this Code is enforced so we can keep our Beach the wonderful place it has been built up to be."

In a memo to the Council Murphy explained, "Upon review of regional comparisons and the state statutes, staff determined that CB is with the minority of coastal towns that places further restriction on indecent exposure than the NCGS (North Carolina General Statutes)."

Murphy explained, "In 1998 the State looked into this issue in the court case of State V. Fly. It was determined there that, “To hold that buttocks are private parts would make criminals of all North Carolinians who appear in public wearing “thong” or “g-string” bikinis or other such skimpy attire during our torrid summer months. Our beaches, lakes, and resort areas are often teeming with such scantily clad vacationers. We simply do not believe that our legislature sought to discourage a practice so commonly engaged in by so many of our people when it enacted N.C.G.S. § 14–190.9."

He explained, "This ruling verifies that is legal to expose the buttocks on the beach, so long as it does not result in exposure of genitals or the anus. The University of NC School of Government released in article in August of 2016 looking into this issue.

They went along to state that, based on one court case and GS 160A-174, towns may not even have the right to have an ordinance in place which is stricter than it already is. Essentially, local ordinances may not actually be able to prohibit the exposure of buttocks."

Currently subsection (b) of Sec. 28-166. - Public nudity, states, "It shall be unlawful for any person to appear on any public beach, any public street or in any public park in a state of dress or undress so as to expose to the view of others the human male or female pubic area, pubic hair, anus, vulva or buttocks with less than a fully opaque covering."

The proposal up for Council consideration is to simply remove the word "buttocks".

The neighboring Town of Kure Beach adopted an ordinance years ago that states, "Thong bathing suits or similar attire are specifically prohibited." The first offense can result in a warning for a $50 fine.

During the Council's August 13th, meeting, the Council adopted the proposed amendment with very little discussion.

Town Attorney Noel Fox explained, "You're striking the one word because in 1998 there was a case where the North Carolina Supreme Court found that it is not indecent exposure to expose your buttocks."

She explained, "As a result of that there was also some revision to the indecent exposure statute that further limited what does and does not constitute indecent exposure. If you were to hand out a citation for somebody wearing a thong then they would likely challenge it and they may very well prevail."
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth made a motion to pass the recommended amendment. The Council voted unanimously.

Kure Beach Dedication Ceremony For New Town Hall

KURE BEACH - The Town of Kure Beach held a ceremony to dedicate their new Town Hall on Saturday May 11th. A ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony was held at 10:00am with and open house and refreshments from 11:00am to 2:00pm at the new Town Hall complex.

The new complex was reopened March 18th.

The Town held a ground breaking ceremony Tuesday February 20th, 2018 at the Town Hall property.

The Town Council unanimously approved a measure in 2017, to begin seeking financing for the $5.5 million dollar project to renovate and expand Town Hall, their Police Station and build a new Fire Station.

According to the Town, the old Police, Fire and Town Hall buildings were constructed 20+ plus years ago in the 1990's and had not been expanded since. Staffing had more than doubled over the years. The Fire Department used to consist of mostly volunteers, but now has eight full time employees, plus volunteers.

In a narrative for the project is states, "Because of the growth of the town as a full time residence and the increase of visitors and demands for services, the subject of space needs was addressed by Town Council in 2016. It was decided that the Town Hall building will be expanded to add new offices for Building Inspections and Recreation staff, an additional conference room, additional document vaults and a larger Council room."

The Police Department building was updated and expanded into the current attached building used by Fire Personnel. A new Fire station was constructed on land adjacent to the Town Hall complex. Additionally, the traffic and parking layout was re-designed to add 48 more parking spaces to accommodate visitors and staff. Town Council expects these improvements will serve the town needs adequately for 25 years or more.

The design includes expanding the Town Hall building to add offices, additional document vaults and a larger Council room. The Town Hall building houses three departments. It also includes renovation of the existing Police building with expansion into the current Fire Station for use by the Police Department.

County To Seek Partnership To Redevelop Government Center

NEW HANOVER CTY - The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to approve a resolution to seek a public-private partnership for redevelopment of the Government Center property during their Monday August 12th meeting.

According to Tim Burgess, Deputy County Manager, "The Government Center, located at 230 Government Center Drive, was originally constructed as a shopping center in 1989. The building was acquired and renovated by New Hanover County beginning in 2002. Acquisition and renovation costs totaled $18.6 million dollars. The current facility is approximately half way through its useful life and will require $20.3 million in repairs and upgrades over the next twenty  years."

Burgess explained, "A critical need exists for a purpose designed county administration building fully compliant with current building codes, functionality, public safety, storm resiliency, maintenance needs, and designed to be customer-centered and customer-focused. A public private partnership capital project would facilitate construction of a new county government center together with private residential and commercial development. The critical needs would be met whilst additional benefits of maximizing use of underdeveloped property and generating tax revenue would be realized."

The county will send out an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) for a public-private partnership to design and build a new government center on the current property including private developments that may include commercial, business and residential uses.

If redevelopment occurs, current County operations in the existing building would continue uninterrupted until a new building is completed and County offices can relocate into the new location.

According to County officials, "The Government Center was originally constructed as a shopping center in 1989 and the county bought and renovated the building beginning in 2002. It is currently located in a Federal Opportunity Zone, which is a community investment tool to encourage long-term investments by providing tax incentives for qualified investors."

County Manager Chris Coudriet explained, "The county has done a good job of retrofitting the space for our use, but there are inefficiencies and unused space that exists," and, "From a business perspective, it’s important to explore the possibility of a new building that is designed specifically for our needs, with the opportunity to add new development to the site. This would bring tax revenue to the county, and help us create an administrative building designed around service to our customers."

The existing structure is 136,654 square feet of which more than 30,000 square feet are not utilized and will require costly maintenance and repairs over the next 30 years.

Coudriet explained, "A building designed for the county’s needs today and in the future would be energy efficient, maximize facility usage and space, be resilient and able to withstand storms, incorporate greater public safety systems, and would save the county money in the long run."

Once the RFQ's are sent out, responses will be due in the fall of this year. After those are received from development corporations, the County will conduct an internal review of the proposals. If that review identifies a qualified development company, the Board of Commissioners will consider whether or not to proceed and direct the County Manager and staff to begin negotiating with a company in November or December.

If a development agreement is reached, the Commissioners would hold a public hearing and vote to approve or decline such an agreement.

Sara Warmuth, Property Management Director, explained the County is half way through the 60 year life expectancy of a commercial building and they estimate the current property will require and investment of $20.3 million dollars over the next 20 years in its current capacity to address issues like parking, heating and air, replacing the roof in 2026, carpeting, replacing doors, ceilings and other amenities.

Burgess explained, "This building was built not for governmental operations, but it was built for retail back in 1989. It has served the customers extremely well, the County did a very good job when they adapted it for County use, but there are limitations on what we can do with this building. For instance, if you enter the building, no matter where you enter the building at there is a long walk for our customers to go where ever their final destination is and no matter what signage we put up it is very difficult for our customers to find where they are looking to go."

A public private partnership would allow private development on County property and generate tax revenues that are not currently realized since the property is owned entirely by the County.

He explained, "This is a very under developed property. We've got 137,000 square feet that is all on one level. With a new County Administration Office Building we could put it on multiple levels so the footprint would be much less so there would be much more space to develop by the private sector."

Dorian Leaves Beach Towns Largely Unscathed

NEW HANOVER CTY - New Hanover County was largely unscathed following Hurricane Dorian passing by the area on Thursday morning September 5th, as a  Category 1 storm.

According to the National Hurricane Center, "Hurricane Dorian was the fourth named storm, second hurricane, and first major hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. Dorian formed on August 24, 2019 from a tropical wave in the Central Atlantic and gradually strengthened as it moved toward the Lesser Antilles, becoming a hurricane on August 28. Rapid intensification occurred, and on August 31, Dorian became a Category 4 hurricane. On September 1, Dorian reached Category 5 intensity, with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph, and a minimum central pressure of 910 mb  (26.87 inHg) while making landfall in Elbow Cay, Bahamas. Dorian made another landfall on Grand Bahama several hours later. The ridge of high pressure steering Dorian westward collapsed on September 2, causing Dorian to stall just north of Grand Bahama for about a day. It is the strongest known tropical system to impact the Bahamas. A combination of cold water upwelling and an eyewall replacement cycle weakened Dorian to a Category 2 hurricane on the next day. On the morning of September 3, Dorian began to move slowly towards the north-northwest. Dorian subsequently completed its eyewall replacement cycle and moved over warmer waters, regaining Category 3 intensity by midnight on September 5. In the early hours of September 6, Dorian weakened to Category 1 intensity as it picked up speed and turned northeast. Dorian would pick up speed and move northeast along the North Carolina coast September 6, moving just south of the Crystal Coast, clipping Cape Lookout and eventually making landfall at Cape Hatteras."

According to the National Hurricane Center, Dorian first made major impacts in North Carolina early morning September 5th when several tornados were reported touching down in eastern North Carolina with the most dangerous and damaging tornado occurring in Emerald Isle in Carteret County after 9am causing damage to businesses and homes including the Salty Pirate Water Park.

That tornado was rated an EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita scale with estimated winds of 115 mph.

Many people in New Hanover County did not see the lights go out, however, across eastern North Carolina, Duke Energy restored power to over 288,000 customers following the storm.

In Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, flooding was minimal. The primary area of flooding occurred on Canal Drive in Carolina Beach which had occurred days before the storm due to lunar tides.

Abandoned Boats

In 2019 the Town of Carolina Beach notified some boat owners to remove their sailing vessels from the waters of the yacht basin or action will be taken. The Town is responding to complaints from residents living along the water way about boats that have seemingly been abandoned and often break free of anchors and drift around the waterway. In one incident, two boats ended up drifting into private docks.

Hurricane Stickers

Carolina Beach Switches Back To Reentry Decals Following Florence. Residents stood in long lines on Monday September 10th, 2018 at the Carolina Beach Town Hall to purchase Town Identification Cards (TIC's) in preparation for Hurricane Florence. Before 2016 the Town of Carolina Beach issued Vehicle Identification (VID) Decals to residents and property owners  that permitted reentry into Town following a hurricane or natural disaster. In 2016, the decal program was replaced by Town Identification Cards (TICs). Following issues with the TIC card program in the wake of Hurricane Florence in September 2018, the Town decided to switched back to using decals for reentry permits on January 1, 2019. As Hurricane Florence approached the North Carolina Coast, the Town was overwhelmed by people waiting for hours in line at Town Hall to obtain their TIC cards and ultimately ran out of materials to print new cards forcing officials to print make-shift cards on sheets of printer paper. That situation combined with other complications caused Town officials to reconsider the TIC card program.

Seafood Blues and Jazz Festival

The Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce hosted the 25th Annual Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival. Pegged the “The Year of the Woman” the postponed event from Hurricane Florence in 2018 did not disappoint as headliners Ana Popovic, Kansas City’s Danielle Nicole and the incredible Heather Gillis Band rocked Fort Fisher! Ticket holders enjoyed a weekend of non-stop musical talent featuring 14 bands on two stages over two days along the scenic Cape Fear River at the Fort Fisher Military Recreational Area in Kure Beach.

First Lady Mayor of Carolina Beach

Leann Pierce was sworn in as the first female Mayor of Carolina Beach during the Dec. 10th, Council meeting. Pierce won her seat in November and that left a vacancy on the Council for the remainder of her four-year Council term. The Council ultimately voted to appoint outgoing Councilman Steve Shuttleworth.


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