Showing posts with label tourism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tourism. Show all posts

Friday, May 3, 2013

Other States

Lovely drive through Southwest Virginia. Great visit with old friends. Just one thing. I was struck by the signs that say "speed limit enforced by aircraft." I had visions of a World War I SPAD with machine gun on the cowling bringing speeders to justice.

Maybe that isn't what the sign means.

Beautiful drive yesterday through West Virginia and Ohio. Arrived in Michigan around sunset. Our first time in Michigan. Still have five more states to visit to cover all fifty states of the Union.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

NC: Remove All Ferry Tolls

Local resident Greg Piner, who used the Minnesott ferry for decades to commute to work at the Marine Corps Air Station, has a creative and rational idea about ferry tolls.

Piner, who has argued against adding tolls to the previously free ferries used mostly by Pamlico County workers, has figured out that North Carolina would be better off without ferry tolls.  He disclosed his idea here on Town

Local Real Estate Developer Larry Gwaltney has expressed similar ideas on his Facebook page:

"I fear that our economy will be impacted as day trippers who travel and shop at our businesses and eat in our restaurants will be less likely to take the ferry. The ferries have been a drawing card for tourists for many years. Baby boo...mers, looking for a retirement destination, will not be as likely to see the beauty of coastal NC and will elect to choose homes and properties in other destinations.

Most of all, our infrastructure that provides the working people a reasonable route to work, will be impacted. The expense of a pass will again burden the family trying to make ends meet in an already troubled economy. Perhaps, we need to take a closer look
to see how Virginia and Texas continue to operate their state maintained ferry systems with no tolls."
 Maybe reason will out.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Traveling North

Just a word to the wise: when traveling north on I-95, if you can avoid Delaware, do so. Big delays from construction.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Special Meeting of Oriental Town Board Aug 26

Oriental's Town Board met at 4:00 p.m. today, August 26, 2010 in special session. Commissioner Styron was unable to attend.

The main reason for calling the meeting - to appoint an interim Town Manager - was delayed until the end of the meeting. Items were discussed as follows:

1. Bay River Metropolitan Sewer District and the Town of Oriental continue to negotiate in an attempt to conclude an interlocal agreement. The main issue is the price the Town charges Bay River to provide billing services, including collecting payments and remitting them to the utility. About two years ago, at the recommendation of the Town's representative on Bay River's Board (Nancy Inger) the Town increased the monthly fee to $1.50 per household. Bay River proposed an agreement that would freeze this rate for five years. The previous board found that unacceptable and wanted to set a level that would not lose money. They also wanted to establish an automatic escalator clause in case Bay River were to increase their rates. Negotiations have been going on for more than a year. The absence of a contract was identified in last year's audit as a control deficiency.

2. South Water Street. The Board played "kick the can" with this issue as well. The Town retained a surveyor who had never surveyed in Oriental or perhaps even in Pamlico County, to determine where South Water Street's right of way lies in hopes of resolving a neighborhood dispute. The report, which arrived today, described how the R/W line was surveyed and marked. Now the contentious issue is "how wide is it?" The surveyor reports some maps show it 36' wide, some 40', some 45' and at least one shows the R/W as 60.' He marked the R/W with stakes at a width of 40'. The Board decided to table the issue until next week's agenda meeting, though it was unclear exactly what was tabled. Commissioners Bohmert and Roe advocated just setting the R/W width at 36' since this width was encompassed within all of the possible widths. This was rejected by Commissioners Johnson and Venturi. Mayor Sage broke the tie, voting with Johnson and Venturi.

My opinion, for what it's worth, is that a surveyor familiar with Oriental and its history would have given far greater weight to the original survey of 1900, which shows the width as 36'. Another factor to consider is that if the Town tries to claim a wider R/W than 36', they may have difficulty defending it in court. The survey has already cost the Town $1200.

3. South Avenue Right of Way. Mayor Sage reported that he has met with Mr. Lacy Henry. Mr. Henry has "given the Town permission" to remove the fence. Why the Town needs Mr. Henry's permission to remove a fence in the Town's R/W was not explained. Heidi Artley reported she has received one bid from a contractor to remove the fence at a cost of $1200. Two more bids are expected. Some of the commissioners seemed unaware that a decision had been made to hire a contractor for this job. No mention was made of whether the Town would send the bill to Mr. Henry. Some mention was made of the contractor cleaning up debris and identifying items of historical interest. As I reported here three months ago, the items of greatest historical interest disappeared not long after the judge signed his order. Removed by a person or persons unknown.

Incidentally, one of the commissioners reported some time ago an interest in a grant application, which opened June 15. Well, that deadline (Boating Infrastructure Grant program) has passed and nothing was submitted. What will it take to get some action?

4. Amendment to Town Charter. It was Alice DeBaun who provided information that the Town had adopted an ordinance in 1997 amending the Town Charter to Council-Manager form of government. Apparently for some reason it wasn't filed with the Secretary of State and the Legislative Library. I informed the Board that a similar circumstance appears to exist concerning the amendment to have five commissioners instead of three.

It was the council-manager amendment to the charter that required the Board to appoint an interim manager. They went into closed session to discuss personnel, even though Commissioner Roe tried to make a nomination in open session.

Following the closed session, Commissioner Venturi moved to appoint Heidi Artley as interim manager, seconded by Commissioner Johnson. Commissioners Bohmert and Roe voted against the motion. Mayor Sage broke the tie by voting in favor.

In his closing remarks, Mayor Sage said this is a major step to "making right" what we did during a nearly three month interim, in the mistaken impression that the Town had a mayor-council form of government.

The meeting adjourned at 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Effluent Issues

Whenever cruising sailors get together, the conversation eventually touches on holding tanks and pumpouts.

Last week an old friend and his wife stopped by on the way north from cruising in Florida. They were accompanied by two other couples and their boats returning to the Patuxent River. The inevitable subject came up. They complained that there are very few pumpout stations available for transient vessels in North Carolina waters.

This is a serious problem for cruising sailors.

It may also represent an opportunity.

Our friends were confident that cruising boats would drop into Oriental if they knew there was a readily available municipal pumpout facility.

17,000 boats go up and down the ICW every year.

A lot of potential visitors to Oriental and customers for our businesses.

Monday, January 25, 2010

STEP: Does it Have a Theme?

It may be unfair, but when I read the plan attributed to the Pamlico County STEP (Small Town Economic Prosperity) plan unveiled at a meeting at Pamlico Community College January 6, I was reminded of Winston Churchill's reaction to a particular dessert. "Madame," he said, "this pudding has no theme."

It is probably unfair to comment, since I didn't attend any of the meetings or do any of the work. A fair assessment of the proposals might be, "they can't hurt."

There may, in fact, be a unifying theme: tourism.

I don't object to tourism. It has the potential to entice visitors to come spend money in the county. That's good.

What the proposed activities don't seem to do is provide a sustained base of economic activity. A sustainable effort creates jobs. The measure of success should be jobs and payroll, preferably year-in and year-out, month-in and month-out.

I don't think a flea market, a revived Blue Crab festival, or a set of marketing materials are likely to accomplish that.

The county needs a more ambitious plan.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

New Year's Eve and Tourism

Over the past year or so we have heard a lot in Oriental about tourism and how we have to promote it. Tourism, it is said, either will be or has been the economic salvation of the town.

When we arrived here, Oriental had for a number of years been a tourist destination on New Year's Eve. Families would come from all over Eastern North Carolina to see the running of the dragon about 8:00 p.m. Many adults of all ages would come for the first running of the dragon, have dinner at a local restaurant, reappear for the second running about 11:00 and stay for the lowering of the Croaker from the mast of a local sailboat at Town Dock.

It was a fun evening, in keeping with Oriental's quirky character.

A year ago at midnight, a crowd gathered at Town Dock expecting the Croaker to appear. They were disappointed.

This year, it seems there will be no 11:00 running of the dragon. There will probably be more disappointed visitors to Oriental.

Preparing and organizing events like the Croaker drop and Dragon Run involve a lot of planning, recruiting and coordinating for something that lasts only a few minutes. Those who enjoy the fun should make sure to thank the organizers and volunteer to help.

The event organizers might give some thought to establishing a permanent entity to be in charge and make sure such attractions continue in the future.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Spirit of Christmas Parade

Four years ago, with our boat laid up in Portsmouth Virginia awaiting a rebuilt transmission, my wife and I drove into Oriental to find a parade about to start. We found a vantage point at the corner of Broad and Hodges and thoroughly enjoyed the show.

We spent the night at Oriental Inn, had coffee and bagels at The Bean the next morning and met many residents. By the time we left to drive back to our boat, we knew we would spend more time in Oriental. We're still here.

Yesterday evening was our fifth Spirit of Christmas parade. The crowd was much smaller than in the past, and the parade seemed smaller as well. Maybe it was the cold weather.