‘Auld Lang Syne’: 2022 in review

By on January 1, 2023

Some of the year’s major stories in Dare County

A letter to patients and a health care crisis 

Manteo Family Medicine Practice.

On May 23, the Outer Banks Medical Group sent a letter to about 2,400 patients at the Manteo Family Medicine Practice, notifying them that due to a shortage of providers, they could no longer receive care there. The Dare County Commissioners convened a special meeting on the issue, the Manteo Commissioners appointed a Healthcare Task Force to address the shortage and the Outer Banks Hospital and Medical Group announced some new provider hires and reported in December that it had re-established care with “nearly all the [Manteo practice] patients on the original priority waitlist.” In the meantime, a new federally qualified health center is slated to open its doors in Manteo in the spring of 2023.


A Dare Schools Superintendent shuffle

Steve Basnight.

On May 31, the Dare County School Board, by a 6-1 vote, accepted the sudden resignation of Superintendent John Farrelly, who had become embroiled in controversy with critics of his administration – giving him a $327,000 settlement package. Steve Blackstock, a veteran educator and former principal of the Manteo Elementary School, was then sworn in as interim superintendent on July 1. In November, after an in-house search, the Dare Board of Education selected Steve Basnight – who had been a Dare County educator for 28 years and a former Hyde County Superintendent — from among 22 candidates to permanently succeed Farrelly. Blackstock continues to serve as the district’s assistant superintendent.


Curtain comes down at the Pioneer Theater  

Pioneer Theater

On Dec. 13, noting that it was with “a great deal of sadness,” the Creef family announced that it was closing the Pioneer Theater in Manteo that had served that community for 104 years, attributing the decision to a number of adverse trends in the theater industry. The closure triggered a wave of warm nostalgic memories as local residents recalled the theater as, among other things, a place of nervous first dates, uniquely delicious popcorn and an Around the World soft drink that was equally special. Thus far, there has been no public announcement of any plans for the theater site in downtown Manteo.


Rodanthe’s crumbling beachfront homes 

Collapsed house in Rodanthe, N.C. (National Park Service photo)

It became a national story when several homes on Ocean Drive in Rodanthe collapsed earlier this past year, spreading debris and highlighting the very real threats of beach erosion. Back in March, National Park Service and Dare County officials convened a public meeting to discuss 11 homes that were in danger of a similar collapse. During a question-and-answer session at the meeting, one main question from attendees was whether beach nourishment could be a long-term solution. In that vein, Dare County is convening a community meeting in Rodanthe on Jan. 18, 2023, to discuss beach erosion, where the nourishment option is very likely to come up.


The ‘Spaceship’ house meets a fiery fate 

Frisco Spaceship House fire. (photo credit Frisco Fire Department)

One iconic Outer Banks attraction that did not survive the year was the “Spaceship” house in Frisco that burned in a mysterious fire on Oct. 19. The structure — one of original Futuro Houses (advertised in Playboy Magazine as a “portable playhouse”) that were built a half century ago — was moved to several locations in Frisco and was utilized as everything from a Boy Scout meeting place to a hot dog stand. Despite its sad end, there is an effort to replace the building. Photographer Wes Snyder announced a GoFundMe campaign to replace it, with a manufacturer agreeing to build the first new Futuro-style home in a half century.


After fits and starts, the “Jug Handle’ Bridge opens 

Aerial photo of the Rodanthe ‘Jug-Handle’-Bridge. (NCDOT)

On July 28, after several delays due to problems with a bridge expansion joint and pavement markings, the Rodanthe ‘Jug Handle’ Bridge officially opened to traffic. The $155 million project, which began in 2018, built a 2.4-mile bridge that extends over Pamlico Sound between the southern end of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and the village of Rodanthe, bypassing a section of N.C. 12 that has been extremely vulnerable to ocean overwash. The Rodanthe bridge is the third new bridge to be completed on NC 12 in the last five years. The Captain Richard Etheridge Bridge over New Inlet was completed in 2017, and the Marc Basnight Bridge over Oregon Inlet opened in 2019.


The push for essential housing runs into snags. 


Dare County’s efforts to build more affordable/essential/workforce units to combat the local housing crunch proved has proven to be a formidable task. On Aug. 8, Kill Devil Hills Commissioners voted 4-1 against rezoning the 44-acre Baum Tract property to a high-density multifamily use. That effectively halted the possibility that one of the county’s housing partners, Coastal Affordable Housing, LLC., would locate a major development there. Another partner, the Woda Cooper Company, appears to have failed in its effort to build a 54-unit complex on the corner of Hollowell Street and U.S. 158 in Nags Head. On Oct. 19, Nags Head Commissioners adopted a 150-day development moratorium in the potentially impacted area. By year’s end, they appeared to be moving toward a zoning change to eliminate multi-family dwellings in the town’s C-2 Zoning District.


Pizza battle breaks out in Nags Head

(Nags Head Pizza)

The conflict between the Nags Head Pizza Company and its neighbors in the Nags Head Historic District wouldn’t normally make a list of major stories of the year. But it clearly struck a chord with the public and was, by a substantial margin, the most viewed story on the Outer Banks Voice in 2022. The local dispute seemed to come to a head at the Sept. 7 Nags Head Commissioners meeting where a number of residents complained about issues ranging from privacy to safety concerns. (Several of those complaints voiced distaste for having to watch people eating near their home.) The Town of Nags Head made its view known in a Sept. 16 letter clearly stating that the pizzeria was in compliance with town regulations.





Notice of Public Auction

The public will take notice that the Dare County Tourism Board, at its meeting of October 20, 2022, adopted Resolution 2022-5 authorizing the sale of surplus personal property by public auction.

Saturday, April 1, 2023.

6708 S. Croatan Highway

Nags Head, NC 27959

10am: Back of the House Auction – Complete Commercial Kitchen

Partial List: True refrigerators and coolers, Hatco drawer warmers, Hobart mixer, Vulcan, 6 & 10 burner gas ovens/stoves, Vulcan 2 basket gas fryer, Vulcan 2-door oven, stainless prep tables, DCS 6 burner LPAS range & oven, Hobart dishwasher, pots & pans & more.

2pm: Front of the House Auction – Selling Everything in the Building + Architectural Salvage by room

Partial List: Antique ships wheel chandelier, Nautical & pirate decor, sword & pistol displays, polyword tables & chairs, ship models, nautical lanterns, art, commercial bar equipment, tables and chairs, NC decoys, fish mounts, signal cannon, architectural salvage, Several bars, pirate bar & more.

Preview 3/31: 11 AM – 5 PM & Auction Day starting @ 9am
Online Absentee Bidding Catalog Closes: 3/31 @ 8pm
Catalog + Thousands of photos @ SSAOBX.HIBID.COM
Island Auction Co. (252)489-5513 – Jason P. Humphries, Auctioneer NCAL #8423
Visa / MC / Cash / Good Check – NC Sales Tax, 15% Buyers Premium

See what people are saying:

  • Steven

    There is no conflict from the pizza place, it’s only the neighboring tourist residents that have the conflict.

    Monday, Jan 2 @ 6:17 pm