Monday, April 24, 2006

OK . . so go VOTE already . . .

There was a time when people had to be sure to mark their calendar to remind them of Election Day . . . MAY 2nd, BTW; figure out when the best time would be to go to the polls; in the morning on the way to work, after work, stand in long lines during the rush periods, fitting into a busy schedule, etc. And worse, would be when you spent so much time reading about the candidates and wanting to be sure that your vote counted, and then for a variety of reasons, you missed the chance the vote. Or, if you knew you would not be in town on election day, you could request an absentee ballot and go through that arduous process of the chance of having your voting voice heard.

A few years ago, the Dare County Elections Board started the No Excue One-Stop Absentee Voting program. The one-stop voting process permits voting in person at the Elections Office beginning on the Thursday after the registration deadline, but no later than 1:00 P.M. on Saturday before the election, for voters who meet the registration requirements.

It's quick, it's easy, and it's convenient. There are three locations in Dare County where voters can cast their ballot. Now there is no excuse for any voter not to express their choice.

Out of the Storm . . .

Lighthouses were erected along the U.S. coasts to guide offshore ships along the coast, protecting them from the deadly shoals, and were a beacon of hope in threatening storms. The red brick, unpainted Currituck Beach lighthouse was constructed in 1875 in the village of Corolla on the NC coastline.

In recent years, the deteriorating light and the accompanying keepers structures were painstakingly and meticulously restored under the guidance of the Outer Banks Conservation organization. When the US Coast Guard opted to delinquish the lighthouse from it's control a few years ago, the issue was embroiled in a storm between Currituck County and the Outer Banks Conservation group. In the end, the conservation group won out. But the situation just got worse when Currituck County started putting up as many obstacles as possible to prevent the group from successfully maintaining the historic site and successfully operating it as a tourist attraction. In addition to the tens of thousands of people that choose to vacation in Corolla, many thousands more make the lighthouse as their destination for a day trip from other parts of the Outer Banks.

A few days ago, Currituck County commissioners decided to drop all legal obstacles in the operation and management of the lighthouse property. The Outer Banks Conservation group has done a very admirable job over the last several years in their restoration efforts, and can now finally get on with what they do best for the people that visit the Currituck Beach Light.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Move Over Food Lion . . .

Food Lion on the Outer Banks is about to get some grocery store chain competition. Other than locally owned Seamark Foods, Food Lion has been the only major player on the Outer Banks for the grocery business for many years.

Harris Teeter is on the verge of opening two new stores on the Outer Banks. The Corolla location will open May 30th. The Kill Devil Hill store is slated to open the end of July or First part of August of this year.

Harris Teeter first announced their intention to expand to the Outer Banks about 5 years ago, with the location in Kitty Hawk at US158 and NC12. They later backed out of those plans and the property was sold to build an Eckerds drug store. Reportedly, it was not cost efficient to have only one store on the island. Now, Harris Teeter is making a significant presence with two large stores.

The Outer Banks consumers will welcome the competition and will hopefully benefit from lower food costs.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Kitty Hawk / Southern Shores Financial District

Kill Devil Hills has their cluster of fast food restaurants (McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Domino's, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Arby's), more commonly known locally as "French Fry Alley". Even the 9-1-1 dispatchers will page emergency units to "French Fry Alley".

Nags Head has "Historic Row", a stretch along NC 12 (S. Virginia Dare Trail; locals call it "Beach Road") where the old, Nags Head Style beachfront cottages still stand, now being surrounded by the huge, modern, multi-million $$$ "McMansion" style, cottages

Now, Kitty Hawk and Southern Shores share the new Outer Banks Financial District. After the merger of Wachovia Bank and First Union Bank, Wachovia moved out of their office in the Market Place into the bank building occupied by First Union. Within the last six months, The Bank of Currituck moved into the former Wachovia space. About two months ago, East Carolina Bank opened their new branch and tore down the bank they vacated at the corner of US 158 and Juniper Trail. Across the street, at the entrance of McDonald's/WalMart, the corner, wooded lot was cleared and a new Gateway Bank will soon open. The strip of small shops, across from Wachovia, where the ABC store was located, along with the North China takeout restaurant, golf shop, and hairstylist shop, was torn down a few months ago, and is being replaced by yet another bank, BB&T.

The location of the old Kitty Hawk Building supply that closed several years ago was traded in a land swap deal with the Dare County ABC Board in order to reconfigure the traffic light intersection. Now that the intersection has been completed, a new ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control . . i.e. liquor store) is under construction.

For those that moved away and haven't been back in six months, you might think that you had made a wrong turn and ended up on another beach. Nearly every day, something is getting sold, torn down, burned down, built up, or name changed. Even locals are starting to have trouble giving directions . . ."It is located right next to . . . wait, it's not there anymore!"

The Bank of Currituck

East Carolina Bank

Gateway Bank


ABC Store

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


For many recent weeks, the Outer Banks didn't see any rain, causing near drought conditions and extreme fire conditions Brush fires in Dare and Currituck Counties were daily occurrances. What the OBX needed was rain. And rain we got yesterday . . . along with severe storms, including dangerous lightning and in some places high winds and hail. A number of homes in eastern NC were damaged.

In the midst of the rain last night, two homes were destroyed by fire. The Nags Head Fire Department responded to a fully involved residential structure about 8PM. Kill Devil Hills FD and the Colington VFD assisted the NHFD. About 10:30PM, the Kitty Hawk FD and Southern Shores VFD were paged for a structure fire in Kitty Hawk. The structure at the Sands Inn cottage court on the beach road was fully involved when KHFD Chief Lowell Spivey arrived on location. The fire threatened nearby structure, including the Rundown Cafe, so additional fire units were called from Duck, Kill Devil Hills, Colington, and Nags Head. The NH and KDH units had just cleared from the house fire in NH, so responded straight to Kitty Hawk. Firefighters prevented the fire from spreading to any other structures. It is unknown at this time if the severe weather at the time had any role in starting the fires.

Hopefully, now, the remainder of April will be a typical OBX Spring; sunny, comfortable days with light, occasional showers.