Meet the Candidates Night at OCBA Meeting on Wednesday

Press Release
Come out to meet Shannon Swindell and Guire Cahoon, candidates for Hyde County Sheriff. 

This month's OCBA meeting (Wednesday April 9th, 7pm at the Community Center) will begin with a short business meeting.

At 7:30pm, OCBA will host a Meet the Candidates Night with Swindell and Cahoon. Hyde County residents will vote in a new sheriff on May 6, 2014. Here's your chance to find out more about these two men and ask them questions. Everyone is welcome!

Below are the DRAFT minutes from the March 12, 2014 OCBA meeting:

Ocracoke Civic and Business Association

Meeting was called to order by vice president Clayton Gaskill at 7:09 p.m. Board members present: Connie Leinbach and Jim Borland, member-at-large. Rudy Austin, president, joined at 7:30 p.m. Sundae Horn, travel and tourism director, Janey and Dick Jacoby, Lida and Bill Jones, John Fletcher, Arleen Burley and Mickey Baker.

Minutes: The minutes of the February meeting were approved.Treasurer’s repo Travel & Tourism Director’s report: Sundae Horn further talked about the activities for July 4 noting that she is looking into extending the festivities into the weekend. Depending on funding and availability, we are looking at having some bands in Community Square Saturday night, sky divers at the Community Ball field and a performance of “A Tale of Blackbeard.” A laser light show would not be possible because the community does not have a large enough screen on which to project it. Also, the generators at laser shows have been known to catch on fire. The group approved our purchasing part of a half-page ad for $800 in the yearly publication “Outer Banks Magazine” to get day-trippers here.

The group broke from the agenda to have a conference call with CHNS superintendent Barclay Trimble. Hyde County manager Bill Rich also joined in via cell phone.The group talked to Mr. Trimble about his decision to cut lifeguards at all the beaches in the Seashore.

Among the talking points made during the conversation were:

  • Ocracoke’s Volunteer Fire Department does not have any water rescue equipment and the fire department is providing safety for the NPS buildings. 
  • You say you want to be sure "available funding is directed towards the highest priorities." What is higher that ensuring the safety of the park-going public with LIFEGUARDS at this much-visited beach? 
  • Lifeguards at our beach are "public safety."According to the NPS’s own policy manual: protecting human life in all of the national parks is the HIGHEST priority. With no lifeguards at the Ocracoke Beach, that top priority has been violated. 
  • As for Interpretive Programs, we know that the average attendance at a mid-summer’s day talk at the Visitor’s Center can be anywhere from six to 25 people, whereas on any summer day (may to Labor Day) at the Public Beach can see hundreds of beach-goers, from infants to the elderly. 
  • Many locals go to the Lifeguard Beach, too, for the safety of having lifeguards. 
  • Do you really think it will be more cost effective to NOT have lifeguards and risk a lawsuit when the first drowning occurs there without them? What about the proposed 2.2 billion dollars that Obama wants to give the NPS. Certainly there's room for lifeguards in that budget. 
  • At every other National Seashore they are hiring lifeguards 

Mr. Trimble’s answers basically stuck to the point that he doesn’t have the budget for lifeguards, and that driving permit fees could not be used because they legally can’t be used for anything but beach access. He also reiterated that the water 150 feet from the shoreline out is not the jurisdiction of the NPS. He said he reduced the law enforcement rangers to four and that they would be able to go into the water to rescue people in distress.

When he said he would be open to a “cost-sharing partnership” to pay for them, Mr. Fletcher noted that there is no precedent for that, nor does the county have the money to pay for it. Mr. Rich asked Trimble to attend the Hyde County commissioners meeting on April 7, but he said his schedule would not allow that, but perhaps he could send a representative. Mr. Rich also said he and Joe McClees, the lobbyist, were scheduled to visit federal Rep. Walter Jones in Washington, D.C., about this.

After the phone call, Rudy reiterated that the OCBA won’t entertain a partnership because of the potential. The OCBA had been named in a lawsuit because it hired the fireworks company (that was professional and upstanding) that had the explosion on the island July 4, 2009, and only recently got released from that.

The group authorized Sundae Horn to draft a petition to reinstate lifeguards to post on Sundae also agreed to be the Ocracoke representative on the Hyde County Chamber of Commerce.

Rudy noted that his going to a meeting in Hatteras to put together a local committee to monitor the Rollinson Channel and to push the Army Corps of Engineers to keep it open. This group is trying to get the corps to dump the dredge sand onto the tip of the island to help protect the channel from shoaling. The group is asking the Corps to make the channel 400 feet wide. It’s down to 80 feet wide. Even though the Corps hasn’t had a proper dredge in the channel to do the job correctly, he hopes the short ferry route will be open by summer.

The meeting adjourned at 8:41 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Connie Leinbach, secretary
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