Local News

  • Brunswick County Board of Elections

    What we asked: Campaign finance reports for two candidates for the Brunswick County Board of Education.

    What the law says: “All candidates in political campaigns must file campaign finance reports with the state board of elections, and they are public records.” N.C. General Statute 163-278.9, 163-278.22(4).

  • Brunswick County Board of Education

    What we asked: Salaries and job descriptions for the following personnel: Katie McGee, superintendent; Terry Chestnutt, assistant superintendent of human resources; Zelphia Grissett, assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and assessment.

  • Brunswick County Parks and Recreation

    What we asked for: The department’s operating budget.

    What the law says: Government records and papers, such as budgets, bank statements, tax levies, utility accounts and contracts are public records.

    How they did: Director George Page told our reporter he would send her a copy of the upcoming fiscal year budget once it was completed. He said a current budget could be found at a local library or online at www.brunsco.net.

    What they said: Page said the parks and recreation staff is aware of public records laws, and are able to furnish the records to the public.

  • Brunswick County Detention Center

    What we asked for: To view inmate logs and for a copy of a list of the inmates currently in custody at the Brunswick County Detention Center.

    What the law says: According to Chapter 148 of the N.C. General Statutes, “Prison records dealing with matters like the length of a prisoner’s sentence, the beginning and ending date of the sentence and any transfers are public record.” (N.C. Media Law Handbook, 2007, eds. Cathy Packer, Hugh Stevens and C. Amanda Martin).

  • Brunswick County Health Department

    What we asked for: A list of statistic of communicable diseases reported to the health department in 2007.

    What the law says: “Health care providers—physicians, hospital administrators and laboratory directors—are required by state law to report cases of some communicable diseases to the state or local government. For example, cases of venereal diseases must be reported to the local health director. However, that information is confidential. Only statistical information based on those reports is public record.” N.C. General Statute 130A-143.

  • Brunswick County law enforcement agencies

    As part of our Sunshine Week investigation, we visited four municipal police departments seeking public information. We asked to view patrol logs, and for copies of weekly incident/arrest reports.

    What the law says: Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, and unless otherwise prohibited by law, the following information shall be public records within the meaning of General Statute 132-1.

    1. The time, date, location and nature of a violation or an apparent violation of the law reported to a public law enforcement agency.

  • Brunswick County Animal Services

    What we asked for: Euthanasia records for 2007: gas chamber vs. lethal injection

    What the law says: Government records and papers, such as budgets, bank statements, tax levies, utility accounts and contracts are public records.

    How they did: Two employees asked who we were and why we wanted the information. One employee said it was only released to the media but then called a supervisor and released the information at 25 cents per page.

    What they said: Animal services director Richard Cooper said his department trains employees in public records laws.

  • Beacon investigates for Sunshine Week

    It’s all about access. Access to public records and open meetings is the driving force behind the Brunswick Beacon’s Sunshine Week special issue.

    The Beacon believes in open government and access to public records for all members of the public— not just for those in the media.

    Sunshine Week, which is March 16-22, is a national initiative launched by newspaper editors in Florida in 2002, and it has grown to include print, broadcast and online news media in addition to civic groups and nonprofit organizations, according to the Sunshine Week Web site.

  • What you would have missed

    Ever wonder if you’re getting the whole story?

    So do we.

    But the law is on our—the public’s—side, and it ensures we have access to public meetings and records.

    When reporting on stories, Beacon reporters always strive to get all relevant information—whether that’s demanding access to open meetings or requesting public records, we always search for the whole story.

    Here are stories that were published in The Brunswick Beacon you would have missed if Beacon reporters hadn’t used N.C. Public Records and Open Meetings Laws:

  • Waccamaw student, 9, killed in funeral procession crash

    A Waccamaw School third-grader was killed in a four-vehicle crash in Hoke County on Friday after a car sideswiped the limousine she was riding in on the way to her grandmother’s funeral.

    The driver of the car was charged with death by motor vehicle and driving left of center.

    Cheyenne Thomas was killed after David Douglas Deming, 32, of Fort Carson, Colo., driving northwest on N.C. 211 in Raeford, came out of a curve, went left of center and sideswiped two limousines in the funeral procession, according to a report from the N.C. Highway Patrol.