Today's News

  • 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.

  • More subpoenaed records released

    More documents subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office related to the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office have been released.

    Last Thursday, county

    attorney Huey Marshall released 55 pages of subpoenaed documents to The Brunswick Beacon.

    Among the subpoenaed documents were Brunswick County Sheriff Ronald Hewett’s oath of office, several law enforcement training certificates, Hewett’s West Brunswick High School diploma and several other awards and certificates not related to public office.

  • What meetings must be open to the public: An overview of the N.C. Open Meetings Law

    Would you know what to do if during a board meeting you were told to leave because the board was going to meet in closed session?

    Do you know what laws allow board members to meet behind closed doors?

    The first step in determining whether a meeting must be open to the public is to determine if the board is a public body.

  • The Freedom of Information Act

    The Freedom of Information Act is may be the most misunderstood of all methods to access public information.

    But if used properly, the federal act ensures the public has access to records of federal executive agencies.

    People often cite FOIA for public records requests at the state and local level, for which it does not pertain. N.C. Public Records Law governs public records requests at the state, county and local levels of government.

    FOIA allows government and records access at the federal level.

  • N.C. Public Records Law

    Public records are property of the people, and the law requires its owners have full access to these records.

    Chapter 132 of the North Carolina General Statutes dictates what documents a government must make available to the public, no matter what.

    The law clearly states every citizen has the right to access public records. But you have to know what records are public before seeking access to the information. The general rule of thumb is this: all documents are public unless the agency can prove by law that they’re not.

    If you don’t know, ask.

  • Tips when making a public records request

    The most important thing to remember when making a public records request is to identify exactly what information you’re seeking.

    As part of our Sunshine Week investigation, reporters from The Brunswick Beacon visited 19 different agencies throughout the county requesting different public documents.

    The newsroom personnel did not identify themselves as Beacon employees but rather, said they were citizens requesting information. In some instances, they gave their first or full names if it was requested.