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Local News

  • Superintendent forms committee to help determine budget reductions

    BOLIVIA—Superintendent Edward Pruden anticipates Brunswick County Schools will have to find about $8 million worth of reductions in the school system’s budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, and he’s asking for help in determining where those reductions will come from.

  • Yours for the taking—What you’re entitled to at every level of government

    Public records are property of the people, so here’s a list of what’s yours for the taking (at every level of government.)

    Municipal

    •Employee job descriptions and salaries

    •Budgets

    •Meeting minutes

    •Minutes of closed session meetings after the reason for the closed session is resolved

    •Government contracts and bids on government contracts

    •Correspondences, including e-mails, between board members and town staff

  • Public terminal available for public viewing, inspection of county e-mails

    BOLIVIA—Have you ever wondered what county officials and department heads were up to?

    There’s now an easy way to find out.

    North Carolina General Statute 132-1 states records are public “regardless of form,” which includes electronic records—meaning those e-mails about public business are public records.

  • What you would have missed: A look back at the stories that shaped the year

    Editor’s note: For the fourth consecutive year, in honor of Sunshine Week, the Beacon takes a look back at some of the top stories we brought you, which, if not for public records and open meetings laws, you would have missed.

    It’s been a very busy year for Beacon reporters.

    The ongoing saga at the Brunswick County Board of Social Services has been a persistent open meetings and public records battle for the Beacon behind the scenes.

  • Judicial sunshine: Access to courts and court documents in North Carolina

    BOLIVIA—The courthouse can be an intimidating place, even if you don’t find yourself in the defendant’s chair.

    But the law provides that Lady Justice’s courts are open, as are her records.

    In fact, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said more than 75 years ago, “Sunlight is said to be the best disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” Brandeis’ words are just as powerful today as in 1933, and are backed by the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions.

  • County starts advertising for new health director

    BOLIVIA—Advertising is going out this week for applicants to fill retiring Brunswick County Health Director Don Yousey’s position.

    Yousey, speaking at the county board of health meeting Monday night, said if all goes according to schedule, interviews should be conducted in May and June. He said he would like for a new hire to be in place by July so he can work with the new person before he retirees at the end of that month.

  • Packed Carolina Shores meeting (mostly) says no to county recycling

    CAROLINA SHORES—A packed, standing-room-only group of Carolina Shores residents is just saying no to countywide curbside recycling and its accompanying fees.

    That was the turnout at a specially called town meeting with county officials at the Calabash Fire Department, where a number of the 150 residents in attendance came armed with plenty of questions about the program county commissioners are considering.

    Assistant county manager Steve Stone said it would be up to the town to decide about services, which he said could be flexible.

  • Streetscape beautification mulled in Sunset Beach

    SUNSET BEACH—Town council mulled landscaping and color at a specially called meeting last Friday to review a report by the town streetscape committee.

    Tim Cate, a Sunset Beach resident and landscape designer who serves on the committee, advised council to prioritize areas it wants to do.

    “The first step is to make it look nice [at] the entrance to the bridge,” town councilman Bob Bobinski said at the March 11 meeting.

  • FOIA: Shining light on a limited part of federal government

    The Freedom of Information Act: It sounds so powerful, as if muttering the term will grant you immediate access.

    Unfortunately, that is not always the case with Freedom of Information Act, more commonly referred to as FOIA.

    FOIA is to the federal government what the state’s public records law is to North Carolina, with several exceptions, that is.

    The president, most notably, is exempt from FOIA. So are his cabinet and immediate staff.

    So is Congress, both House and Senate. Even the Supreme Court is exempt from FOIA.

  • The true cost to be governed: A look at commissioners’ compensation

    Though they ditched the $50-per-meeting fee many residents thought was wasteful back in September, just how much does it cost for county commissioners to govern Brunswick County?

    In honor of Sunshine Week, the weeklong celebration of freedom of information and the public’s right to know, the Beacon requested extensive information pertaining to costs associated with county department heads and county commissioners.