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OCEAN ISLE BEACH—The Ocean Isle Beach Fire Department will become a municipal department by July 1.
Town commissioners unanimously voted Tuesday at their monthly meeting to make the department a municipal fire department. It will take over all assets and debts of the association.
The board also voted to enter into a loan agreement with BB&T for $337,075 with an interest rate of 2.87 percent to finance the association’s outstanding debt.
Commissioner Dean Walters said he was excited to see the town take this step.
“This is something we’ve talked about for a number of years,” he said.
The board also heard from Chris McKenzie of the East End Association.
McKenzie addressed the board last month and asked for their partnership in sandbagging the east end from Shallotte Boulevard to Third Street.
McKenzie asked the board to fund $139,444—a continuous sandbag line from Columbia Street to the end East Third Street—and the board agreed.
“Timing is critical right now,” commissioner D.B. Grantham said last month. “I think we have to do it. I think we have to take the chance.”
McKenzie revisited the board Tuesday and said because of CAMA regulations, a continuous bag line would not be possible at this time; not all houses meet permit regulations.
McKenzie asked the board to release part of its agreement for the funding on Columbia Street so the project could get underway. Town administrator Daisy Ivey said it would be $28,708 to sandbag 50 feet on Columbia.
Although McKenzie said every affected east end resident had agreed to contribute to the project, one homeowner had been out of town and had not yet been able to sign a contract.
The board voted to release the money for Columbia Street with a continuous bag line from 470 E Third Street to 484 E Third Street, but the board required McKenzie and contractor Yogi Harper to secure contracts with the residents of 470 and 474 E. Third Street before releasing more funds.
The board will reconvene on May 27 and will discuss their next action once all contracts are secured.
In other business, the board:
•Voted to increase the beach patrol personnel’s hourly pay $1.
Ocean Isle Beach Police Chief Curt Pritchard said Oak Island and Bald Head are paying their patrol $15 an hour compared to Ocean Isle Beach, which pays $13.
Although the town would still be paying less than surrounding departments, Pritchard said the pay increase would be competitive enough for him to have enough help during the summer months and tourist season.
“I can get enough man power to make life a lot simpler on the strand this summer,” he said.
•Voted to ban tents from beach weddings.
With the town’s ordinance banning cabanas, commissioners and town staff thought making an exception for weddings would “open up a can of worms,” Elva Jess, town attorney, said.
“Somewhere along the line, it’s going to come back to bite you,” she said.
•Adopted a resolution for all citizens to observe National Police Week, May 11-17, and Peace Officers Memorial Day, May 15, which honors police officers who have died or been injured while on duty.
•Learned the roundabout beautification project will begin later this week and is scheduled to be completed by Memorial Day.
•Recognized Pritchard for 20 years of service.
•Recognized Sgt. Brian Higgins as the town’s employee of the month.
KATHRYN JACEWICZ is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at firstname.lastname@example.org