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Opinion

  • Sunset Beach seems to have seen more than its fair share of turmoil in recent years.

    Yet despite being without a mayor and likely down one member of town council as of Aug. 31, the town is functioning on an even keel.

    Ron Watts resigned effective Aug. 16 as mayor after selling his house, while Lou De Vita tendered his resignation from council Aug. 8.

    Town council will vote on accepting De Vita’s resignation at the next board meeting Sept. 6 and will determine how to proceed with filling the remaining year in his term.

  • Students in Brunswick County Schools are preparing to begin the 2016-17 school year Aug. 29, perhaps with a mixture of excitement and anxiety.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests reminding students they will reconnect with old friends and make new ones.

    If they feel uneasy, assure them they are not alone. “Teachers know students are nervous and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible,” AAP says.

  • Brunswick County suffers from two distinct drug problems: prescription and heroin.

    The former is being addressed by the Brunswick Coalition, established last year and modeled after Project Lazarus to focus on prescription painkiller, or opioid, abuse, misuse and addiction. Project Lazarus is a secular public health nonprofit established in 2008 in response to extremely high drug overdose death rates in Wilkes County.

  • The most recent data from the North Carolina Department of Commerce Labor and Economic Analysis Division show Brunswick County’s unemployment rate increased by .3 percent from May to June.

    Brunswick County Association of Realtors statistics show total sales for June were $91,171,000, a 13-percent decrease from the $105,530,000 in June last year; the average sale price decreased 9 percent from $259,916 to $236,190 between June 2015 and June 2016.

    Economic momentum, however, seems to be moving in our county’s favor.

  • North Carolina Department of Commerce Labor and Economic Analysis Division data for May show Brunswick County has 2,786 unemployed workers out of a labor force of 50,619, putting its unemployment rate at 5.5 percent.

  • Brunswick County enacted Unified Development Ordinance regulations in 2009 that put a stop to roadside stands but include exceptions that allow a property owner who grows produce on his or her property to sell the produce on site, even if it is on a roadside.

    The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners decided to revisit those regulations this year after the county’s planning board in May unanimously approved recommending text amendments to the Unified Development Ordinance designed to expand opportunities for farmers markets and farm stands.

  • After a long-term pattern of discord between members of the Brunswick County Board of Education and sitting Brunswick County Schools superintendents, it appears the rapport between current school board members and superintendent Les Tubb will result in steady progress toward improving schools in the district.

  • After more than 60 years as part of the Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area, the federal government’s Office of Management and Budget in February 2013 shifted Brunswick County to the Myrtle Beach, S.C., MSA based on 2010 Census data.

    The Census Bureau defines MSAs as core areas containing a substantial population nucleus, together with adjacent communities that have a high degree of economic and social integration with that core.

  • The job of an elected coroner is to determine if a person’s death was the result of natural causes, whether the person died at his own hands or someone else’s or if the person’s death cannot be determined without further investigation, if at all.

    The coroner and his deputies not only provide investigative services with law enforcement and public safety officials, but they also render comfort to those who mourn the dead.

    Our state’s General Assembly last week decided that was a luxury Brunswick County could no longer afford.

  • AAA predicts 2016 will be a record-setting year for Independence Day travel, with more than 1.8 million Carolinians people projected to take to our roads, waters and skies. AAA defines the holiday travel period as Thursday, June 30, to Monday, July 4.

  • As we begin our two-part series on scams in our community and how to fight against them, we feel it is important to call attention to one aspect of these crimes related to another type of crime: elder abuse.

    Brunswick County’s 65-and-older population in 2010 was 21.4 percent and grew to 27 percent in 2014, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data.

  • A firestorm has erupted over Sen. Bill Rabon’s proposed Senate Bill 875, which seeks to de-annex three parcels from the town of Sunset Beach, since he filed it last month after notifying only one town official, Mayor Ron Watts.

  • The unofficial start of summer this year had not even gotten under way Memorial Day weekend when we reported our first seasonal tragedy in Brunswick County this year.

    The deaths of 51-year-old John Wernowsky of Acworth, Ga., and his 10-year-old son, Jake, who were riding a Jet Ski together when they died in Sunset Beach, happened May 27, less than a week before 24-year-old Brian Willis, of Cleveland, Ohio, was injured in a Jet Ski accident in Ocean Isle Beach on June 2.

  • Two local teams — one from North Brunswick High School and the other from Brunswick Community College — are celebrating hard-earned and well-deserved success this spring.

    Sports fans would be hard pressed to find a team as successful as North Brunswick’s boys’ track and field team, which claimed its third straight North Carolina High School Athletic Association class 2A outdoor title May 21.

    That is impressive.

    But remember: Including indoor state titles, the Scorpions have won six straight state championships.

  • Senate Bill 875 should come as no surprise to residents of state Senate District 8, specifically those in Brunswick County, who have been represented by Bill Rabon for the past six years.

    During the first half of Rabon’s tenure, he was touted as a champion for the district, especially the areas along the coast.

    In 2011, he was among primary sponsors of Senate Bill 110 to allow terminal groins to be used as erosion control devices. It was a move supported by at least one Brunswick County beach municipality, Ocean Isle Beach.

  • Plans for too many public parks in Brunswick County over the past three years have been burdened by significant delays and controversies.

    Not so in Belville and Shallotte.

    On Saturday, May 7, more than 500 visitors attended the official opening of the Brunswick Riverwalk at Belville Park trail and fishing pier. It represents the completion of the park’s first phase.

  • For most people, routine dental checkups are as much a part of their routine as brushing and flossing their teeth at least once a day. Good oral health is something we tend to take for granted. For too many others, however, it is a luxury they forego in favor of paying for food, shelter and other necessities like utilities and transportation.

  • Meet Pearl, a three-week-old cat who was tossed from a moving vehicle onto N.C. 130 last Wednesday. She suffered a broken eye socket, broken jaw and severe lacerations to her face and legs; even in a black-and-white photo, you can see the blood.

    Someone saw what happened to Pearl and rescued her. The tiny kitten made it thorough emergency surgery at Ocean Isle Veterinary Hospital hours later and, after round-the-clock foster care, joined the family of Doug and Brandi Turner of Douglas Diamond Jewelers in Shallotte who will keep her safe and loved.

  • A lot of times when I read columns and someone writes, "The other day I was thinking about …" I usually assume it's something they've been thinking about for a long time and they just use that phrase for convenience's sake. But in this case, for this column, I really mean it.

  • The good news is Brunswick County reduced its premature death, prostate cancer death and colon cancer death rates last year.

    The bad news is its number of injury/accidental deaths, obesity and low birth rates increased in 2015.

    As for physical activity, the number of uninsured citizens and violent crime in our county, rates remained about the same. That can be considered good or bad news, depending on one’s point of view.