OCBA Minutes from May and June

Press Release

OCBA will hold a July meeting on Wednesday, July 10 at 7pm at the Ocracoke Community Center.

Ocracoke Civic and Business Association Minutes Wednesday, June 12, 2013 

Ocracoke Community Center Attending: Rudy Austin, Clayton Gaskill, Carol Pahl, Connie Leinbach, Justin LeBlanc, Rachel Cobb, Fred & Ernie Westervelt, Robin Payne, Bill Rich, county manager; John Fletcher, county commissioner. The meeting was called to order at 7:04 p.m. by President Rudy Austin.

Minutes: A motion to approve the May minutes was made by Ernie Westervelt and seconded by Fred Westervelt. Motion approved and carried.

Treasurer’s report: Carol Pahl reported that total expenses for May were $2,221. The beginning cash balance was $48,723.47, for an ending unrestricted cash balance of $46,647.47. Accounts receivable: $10,000 from Occupancy Tax and the restricted asset is $35,124.56.

Secretary: Connie Leinbach reported that she sent thank-you notes to the Legislators who visited and most all of the businesses who donated food. There are a few left to send. The “no ferry tolls” was included in the House budget, but the Senate’s budget proposes to toll all the ferries. A final budget will be hammered out before the end of June. She also passed around two thank-you notes from Ocracoke School students for the OCBA donation to the prom. President’s report: Rudy reported that the side caster dredge is working over the top of the electric cable in the inlet (near buoys 12 & 13) to disperse the sand that the pipeline dredge from the Army Corps missed. They hope to be done next week. He said the unexpected power outage Sunday morning was a salt flash. Dredging will also occur at the Barney Slough turn.

Travel and Tourism Director (TTD) report: Visitor’s Center is moving along slowly; awaiting the construction of brochure racks. Working on getting a door with a window and the place has been painted.

Advertising: Have only done the USA Today National Parks ad. No other paid advertising (i.e., billboards) at the moment. Promotion: Spent today taking two travel writers with the UK around the island. One is the East Coast correspondent (out of Washington, D.C.) with the London Daily Mail. The other was with a UK travel publication called Rough Guides. The writer is updating their travel books. Sundae has talked to other travel writers through www.visitnc.com, who have been sending people our way. She’s been fielding a lot of calls and emails pretty steadily in recent weeks.

July 4: Activities are all in place with the folks handling the various events on board. She is awaiting finalized list of activities so that Valerie can do the poster, which will be done this week. There will be more entertainment in Community Square.

County Commissioner update: John Fletcher talked about the fire break. Bill Rich said he has talked to NPS Supervisor Ed Fuller and when the superintendent comes to visit, all three will get together about this longstanding issue.

County manager update: Bill Rich reported that the NC 20 group made a resolution against the proposed “game fish bill.” Along with that and many coastal fishermen rallying against this bill, the bill was defeated this year.

Silver Lake mooring field: he is looking into establishing this in the harbor. It might need a CAMA grant. The field would be for safety from derelict boats becoming unmoored in extreme weather as well as accountability for these boats. They are looking at a mooring capacity for about 25 boats and establishing a fee. John noted that Bill will need to look into the riparian rights of landowners around the harbor before such a field could be set up.

Tourism: Currently, Ocracoke, the mainland and Belhaven promote themselves as separate entities. Wayne Clark (with the Occupancy Tax Board) has talked about pooling money to market all of them.

County budget: the budget was approved and taxes will stay the same. He said the fund balance is $3.5 million and he wants to grow that to $4 million. FEMA owes the county $600,000 and he will aggressively go after the $1 million more they owe us. As for the state transportation budget, Bill said Tony Almeida, Gov. McCrory’s chief of staff told the NC 20 Commission that they would like to spread this more evenly across the state.

Wood chipper: the commissioners agreed to keep it on Ocracoke, but chipping wood at the convenience site is a safety violation. The chipper will travel around the island to chip wood debris on people’s property where the mulch can remain or be hauled back to the convenience site. Ocracoke Community Park: this group did not ask the county for outright cash. The county’s part will be maintenance, and Bill will apply for Parks & Rec money from the state.

Other: “Top Gear,” a television show from the UK that does unusual things with cars, wants to drive an amphibious car from mainland Hyde to Ocracoke sometime. However, this has not been settled yet. Sarah Johnson is the new public information officer for the county and is keeping the website up to date.

A conversation about sales and use tax ensued. Rudy shared that NC takes in $2.6 billion in tourist revenues, which translates to $53 million a day. Hatteras Island contributes $1.2 million of that, or .04 percent, or 400th of the total. In Dare County, Hatteras Island contributes 27 percent of that county’s occupancy tax. Of the total tourist revenues, $19.4 billion comes from two counties—Dare and Currituck and Dare accounts for about $1 billion of that. About 38,000 people are permanent residents of the northern beaches. John Fletcher talked about the possibility of integrating tourism between mainland Hyde and Ocracoke. He noted that Newfoundland has an event called “Come Home Week” in October, which encourages former residents to come back for a visit.

Old Business: Robin Payne reported that we need to move forward with the storm water project and use the $5,000 the OCBA allotted to run more tests on the water samples we have. But the question arose if this $5,000 can be used for that since it came from the restricted fund which is only for public restrooms. Carol will ask attorney Katherine Parker-Lowe about the specifics of the restricted fund and report back.

New Business: Rudy explained that some islanders want the OCBA to write a letter to the highway patrol about the events of the first weekend in May, but Rudy thinks it might be best to just let it lie. Also, someone noted that state law says that no state highway can have a posted speed below 35 mph. This bears looking into as Irvin Garrish Highway is 25 mph and from the Pizza Co to the south docks the speed limit is 20 mph.

The Surface Interval Diving Company, a nonprofit that does archaeological diving sometimes off Ocracoke, sent a letter asking OCBA to donate $1,500 towards a joint project with the U.S. Coast Guard but is keeping the details secret. The group agreed that since we’ve given this group a lot of money over the years, what are the results so far? Is there anything they can let us share with the traveling public? Connie should write a letter to them requesting more information. Robin will send points for Connie to cover in the letter.

Next meeting: July, 10, 2013. The group decided that though typically the OCBA does not meet in July, we need to have a meeting, especially about the storm water project and this SIDCO request. The meeting adjourned at 8:37 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Connie Leinbach Secretary

Ocracoke Civic and Business Association Minutes Wednesday, May 8, 2013; Ocracoke Community Center

Attending: Rudy Austin, Clayton Gaskill, Carol Pahl, Connie Leinbach, Jim Borland, Rachel Cobb, Arleen Burley, Philip Howard, Fred & Ernie Westervelt, Dick & Janey Jacoby, Ed Fuller, Sundae Horn, Tom Pahl and Mike Stockwell. The meeting was called to order at 7:03 p.m. by President Rudy Austin.

Minutes: A motion to approve the April minutes was made by Fred Westervelt and seconded by Janey Jacoby. Motion approved and carried. Treasurer’s report: Carol Pahl reported that total expenses for April were $1,965.73. The beginning cash balance was $50,689.20, for an ending unrestricted cash balance of $48,723.47. Accounts receivable: $12,741.31 from Occupancy Tax and the restricted asset is $35,080.

NPS Update: Ed Fuller reported that there’s one piping plover nest at Southpoint; a Wilson’s plover; six oyster catcher nests. No turtle nests yet. The campground is open until the end of October. There are four lifeguards are on staff now. Dylan Bennink is one of them; the others are new. As for the Fire Break, he said the US Fish & Wildlife was here last weekend and walked the area to cut, which they could do in a day once they get the equipment here. He doesn’t know when that will be, but it will be “soon,” and the funds have been approved.

As for beach permits, he said that the price for them won’t change for five years. If yearly permit holders renew their permits before 365 days are up, they do not have to watch the 7-minute video again. Secretary: Connie Leinbach reported on the Legislators and lobbyists visit on April 26. Only three of the five expected Representatives attended: Paul Tine, Charles Jeter (Mecklenberg) and John Torbett (Gaston) and his wife, Viddia. Neither Jeter nor the Torbetts had been to the Outer Banks. They were impressed at the great turnout of residents at the community meeting Friday, April 27, at NCCAT and were impressed with Ocracoke. They understand better our situation. Connie also read a note received from Viddia Torbett, thanking us for hosting them.

President’s report: Rudy reported that the Hatteras inlet still needs more dredging even after the Army Corps spent months dredging the channel this winter and the ferries have had to use the longer natural channel. The tricky part is on the west end of the channel towards Ocracoke where the electric cables are buried. The Corps is surveying the area to determine the exact location and depth of the cable, which is near buoys 11A and 11B .

However, the Corps has a hopper dredge that left Key West two days ago and the goal is for it to arrive in Hatteras by May 14. Travel and Tourism Director (TTD) report: Sundae Horn reported that the advertising committee set a budget of $5,000, then the opportunity to purchase a space in the new USA Today National Parks publication highlighting Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and the group agreed to that expenditure. This space costs $6,500 and includes a link from their website to ours and will include an ad provided by Carol.At the direction of the committee, Sundae is looking into other advertising opportunities as well. Rudy said he’d like us to get an ad in “Our State” magazine sometime.

Our new website is getting good traffic with the most hits on the lodging information.

We did not get extra Occupancy Tax money for advertising. Apparently, the Occupancy Tax Board is going to spend some of their money on their own advertising campaign and Wayne Clark, Occupancy Board chair, will stay in touch with Sundae about this. We hope they will allow the OCBA to be involved. As for the Visitor’s Center room in the Willis House, the room was painted; brochure racks are being built; there will be a binder with restaurant menus and information. The floor will be painted and there will be a big map of the village and other visitor information.

July 4th: Confirmed activities are the fig cake bake-off; car show, parade; kids choirs; sand sculpture contest; evening activities in Community Square. We have $8,000 budgeted for this and $6,911 projected in expenses. We’ll be getting fans with the schedule on it and will ask Jason Daniels to make three sandwich boards with the schedule as well.

Ocracoke Day Care has committed to doing some activities on July 4, too. There’s a possibility of events on July 5. Gary Mitchell will have a PA system (that we authorized to purchase) to us by July 4. County Commissioner update: none County manager update: none

Old Business: Game Fish Bill: 14 people from Ocracoke attended a large contingent from the coast to Raleigh to protest this bill, which has until May 16 to pass in the Senate. All the folks who attended got three minutes to speak. New Business:

British Cemetery Ceremony: Janey Jacoby reported that the annual event will be May 10. A man from Florida who attended a reunion in England with some of the veterans of the Battle of the Atlantic will be in attendance along with the usual group of Coast Guard and government officials. Dick Jacoby gave an update on the new Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Dept. building.

A discussion on the state troopers being on the island the first weekend in May ensued. Rudy said he’s been to a lot of places in the state and has never seen the highway patrol target 14 miles and a little village for three days. Tom Pahl said they did some “damage” to the economy as a lot of people didn’t go out. Rudy said he would ask County Manager Bill Rich if he could find out what initiated it. It also possibly embarrassed Jason Daniels, who we should support. Mike Stockwell, who owns the beach horse rides, said he watched them pull over everyone.

The meeting adjourned at 8:42 p.m. Next meeting is Wednesday, June 12, 2013.

Respectfully submitted, Connie Leinbach Secretary

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