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Local News

  • One man’s fight for public records, open access

    On Sept. 17, 2007, Brian Keesee started fighting for what belonged to him and the people of Oak Island—access to public records.

    Keesee and his counsel, Colin Tarrant, sent a formal request to the Town of Oak Island to inspect and copy all public records including “notes, correspondence, interoffice and interdepartment memoranda and e-mails that the Town may have pertaining to Brian Keesee, BKK Construction and the SE 58th Street project.”

  • Schools expect $5.8 million shortfall in 09-10

    BOLIVIA—Brunswick County Schools is expecting a budget shortfall of nearly $5.8 million dollars for the 2009-2010 school year.

    A shortfall was to be expected, as the state was asked to prepare its public schools budget with 3, 5 and 7 percent reduction options last month, which could cost about 50 local employees their jobs.

    At the board of education’s budget retreat Tuesday, Superintendent Katie McGee said the preliminary budget for the 2009-2010 school year does not include details but should be looked at as a “thought process.”

  • Board of Education unable to provide requested e-mail documents

    The Brunswick County Board of Education is held to the same expectations as government agencies and must be able to furnish requested public records, including e-mails. But due to confusion among board members not all the board’s e-mails remain in existence—a violation of state public records law.

    N.C.G.S. 132-1 states public records include “all documents…regardless of physical form or characteristics.” Persons subject to this law includes “every public office, public officer or official (state or local, elected or appointed.”

  • The price of policing in paradise

    Ocean Isle Beach may be a sleepy beach town between September and May with a population of only 508 residents. But during the summer tourist season, the population can increase nearly five times, as up to 25,000 people invade the island per day.

    While this may be a boost for the local economy, it takes its toll on the town’s police department that operates with the same amount of officers year-round, only adding a handful of part-timers to patrol the beach during daylight hours.

  • Oak Island: How did they do?

    On March 12, the Beacon faxed a public records request for Oak Island’s written policy regarding document destruction and all records pertaining to the destruction of documents from Jan. 1, 2007 until present.

    Upon receiving the request, Jerry Walters, Oak Island town administrator, said the town would comply.

    On March 16, Joy Davis, Oak Island town clerk, e-mailed the public records to the Beacon. After sending the requests, Davis sent an e-mail to confirm the records were received.

  • Ocean Isle Police Department incident reports

    The following information is from the Ocean Isle Beach Police Department for the 2007-2008 fiscal year:

    Employees:

    15 year-round employees

    5 beach patrol officers

    Salaries & Wages:

    $597,146.94

    General Fund:

    $1,049,947.00

    Traffic Accidents:

    31 total

    July: 9

    August: 3

    September: 4

    October: 2

    November: 5

    December: 1

    January: 0

    February: 0

    March: 1

    April: 2

    May: 1

    June: 3

    Traffic Citations:

    520 total

  • County government: How'd they do?

    What we asked for: Closed session meeting minutes from county commissioners’ closed session meetings from Dec. 1, 2008-March 2, 2009.

    What the law says: North Carolina General Statute 143-318.10(e) requires that “Every public body shall keep full and accurate minutes of all official meetings, including any closed sessions held pursuant to G.S. 143-318.11.”

    The minutes can be released to the public as long as the disclosure of the minutes would not “frustrate the purpose of the closed session.”

  • Ocean Isle Beach: What we asked for, how they did

    What we asked for

    The Beacon requested documents regarding the Ocean Isle Beach Police Department during the 2007-2008 fiscal year, including:

    •Department budget

    •Complete personnel list, including salary and benefit information

    •List of assigned equipment

    •Employee work log information

    •All incident reports and all activity reports

    What the law says

  • Cross-country petitions are in the mail for Sunset Beach sewer 'bailout'

    SUNSET BEACH—As entities around the country line up for bailouts during the economic downturn, a group of Sunset Beach residents have taken their own unique path to bail out from underneath a projected $8,000-$12,000 sewer fee.

    Sunset Beach resident Carol Scott researched a North Carolina statute that allows Brunswick County to approve a 30-year payback schedule for the sewer assessment if a majority of owners of at least 66 percent of the property petition the county for the longer payback plan.

  • Disputes ignite over proposed Calabash Town Center plans

    CALABASH—An attorney for Calabash Town Center argued for a height variance Tuesday while a representative for the adjacent Thistle talked about pursuing legal channels as well, charging the proposed multifamily development is incompatible with the Thistle’s single-family homes.

    Attorney Bob Burris of Charlotte, representing developer Shallotte Partners of Calabash Town Center, was responding to the town’s rescindment of a conditional use permit at Tuesday night’s town commissioners meeting.