The State of Dare County—positive news and some headwinds

By on January 23, 2024

Commissioner Rob Ross discussing the county's financial health. (Photo by Kip Tabb/OBV)
Commissioner Danny Couch describing beach nourishment issues on Hatteras Island. (Photo by Kip Tabb/OBV)
Chair of the Dare County Commissioners Bob Woodard receiving a resolution of appreciation and congratulations from State Senator Bobby Hanig. (Photo by Kip Tabb/OBV)
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Commissioner Rob Ross discussing the county's financial health. (Photo by Kip Tabb/OBV)
Commissioner Danny Couch describing beach nourishment issues on Hatteras Island. (Photo by Kip Tabb/OBV)
Chair of the Dare County Commissioners Bob Woodard receiving a resolution of appreciation and congratulations from State Senator Bobby Hanig. (Photo by Kip Tabb/OBV)
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Clad in blue football jerseys to highlight the overarching theme of teamwork, the Dare County Commissioners reviewed a series of key county issues during the Jan. 23 State of County event before a packed house at Captain George’s in Kill Devil Hills.

Continuing with the football motif, Board Chairman Bob Woodard, holding a football, assigned a team position to everyone and called on them in turn.

Before the commissioners delivered their message, though, State Senator Bobby Hanig took the floor to present a surprised Woodard with a Senate District 3 resolution of appreciation and congratulations.

“What Chairman Woodward brings to the table is the ability to bring people together. Doesn’t matter if you’re Republican, Democrat, unaffiliated. His interests are purely for the best Dare County and North Carolina,” Hanig said in his remarks.

The financial health of the county was the first play, or presentation, of the morning. The good news, according to Commissioner Rob Ross, is that the county’s financial picture is excellent.

“One of the things a former boss once told me is ‘Good numbers make for good meetings.’ Well, spoiler alert. Dare County has some pretty damn good numbers,” he said. Ross went on to describe how the county’s $120 million budget is spent—most of it for public safety, education and social services—and how it is administered.

Ross drew particular attention to the administration of those funds under Finance Director David Clausen, noting that the county’s credit rating is as good as it can be.

“We are one notch below on Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, and Fitch from the theoretical perfect credit rating…We’re only down one level because of where we live, our susceptibility to storms, hurricanes. We can’t do anything about that,” he said.

Commissioner Steve House noted that the county’s purchase of the dredge Miss Katie in 2022 seems to have paid dividends last year when for “the first time in almost eight years, we now have loaded trawlers navigating through Oregon Inlet.” But that comes against the backdrop of a disturbing trend in commercial fishing in the state.

“Our commercial fisheries land at 35.1 million pounds of seafood in North Carolina and these are [20]22 numbers…This was a 17.3% decrease from 2021 landings…and a 26.6% decrease from the five-year average,” he said.

Dare County also continues to struggle with essential housing for its workforce, and Woodard, who wrapped up the meeting, addressed that issue, noting that “2023 was challenging. The last four or five years were challenging…with regard to moving forward with essential housing.” (At the 2023 State of the County, Woodard declared that “The number one priority for us is essential and workforce housing.”)

Woodard noted that Woda Cooper, one of the companies the county had contracted with to created workforce housing, had pulled out, indicating there were too many obstacles.

He also pointed to the controversial state budget item that would have stripped the Dare County towns of the authority to regulate housing developments funded with $35 million in state money, has been rejected by the county commissioners.

The first meeting of the Dare County Affordable Housing Task Force was held last week, and Woodard called attention to what he hopes it will accomplish.

“Our goal is to work to find consensus in an effort to move forward to [address] the pressing housing needs throughout Dare County,” he said.

Hatteras Island Commissioner Danny Couch addressed the need for beach nourishment. He said that Buxton and Avon had been included in the last round of nourishment, but that beach retreat in Rodanthe continued to be a vexing issue for the county.

Rodanthe, which is very narrow at points and sparsely populated, does not seem to qualify for nourishment under federal guidelines. “There’s not a lot of money that you can get from a tax district to help pay that [nourishment] because that’s a FEMA requirement,” he explained. “If you’re going to get federal money, you’re going to have to have some financial input coming…from the community and it just does not have it right now at this point.”

But he added, there is reason for hope, describing collaborative efforts to protect property on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which owns the beach to the high tide line, and state and federal agencies.

“We’ve had a federal, state and local commitment. We’re moving houses off of the beach. We’re doing what we can to help [homeowners] to…hang on to that critical certificate of occupancy and we are having some success,” he said.

On the issue of the battle against addiction, Vice Chair Wally Overman, Co-chair of the Saving Lives Task Force, called attention to the funds the county will receive.

“One of the biggest accomplishments for 2023 was managing the first round of the national opioid settlement funds awarded to Dare County. Dare County will receive $3.4 million over an 18-year period that started in Fiscal Year 2023 when approximately $400,000 was designated,” he said.

On the subject of education, Bea Basnight, the newly appointed county commissioner and a former chair of the Dare County Board of Education, noted that Dare County has now provided more than 700 scholarship covering the cost of tuition and other expenses for county students who will be attending the College of the Albemarle.


BIDDER PRE-QUALIFICATION REQUEST:

Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at mterrell@barnhillcontracting.com or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


 



Comments

  • Obx mermaid

    Same old deal from same old people! Nothing creative! Nothing new! Did any of you get one of those opioid bags from the health dept? Useless! Waste of money!

    Wednesday, Jan 24 @ 12:33 am
  • Please expand

    Please tell us about the opioid bags from our DCHD, mermaid. Is this the settlement $$$$ at work?

    Wednesday, Jan 24 @ 9:29 pm
  • Jay

    Lets all hope tax revenues always meet or exceed the annual Dare County budget spending. If tax revenue should decline the County will turn to/on property owners by raising property taxes to make up the shortfall.

    Thursday, Jan 25 @ 11:04 am
  • Terry Gore

    You know what @OBX Mermaid? You are right! It is the same, old same old out of this crowd!
    First, they get our county the best possible credit rating. Something it takes hours of meticulous work to do and gives our county financial advantages. I mean it is the best score our county can get. These jokers think it is a good thing to do this while keeping our property taxes at the fourth lowest rate in the state. I think Rob Ross should be working more on his golf game and less on helping this county and its citizens reap the rewards of good fiscal stewardship.

    Like that is not enough, then they go and get us our own dredge. Something unprecedented before they found a way to get it done. This has made navigation of the inlets possible for the watermen allowing them to take their ‘highway to work’ every day. Allowing one-third of the economy of the county to keep working without interruption. I guess Steve House just does not understand how things work around here. How Dare (pun intended) he have these fishermen out here working and providing for their families instead of being held in by the shoals, stressing about their futures!

    What are they doing for Hatteras? Getting beach renourishment. What does that do? It is not like it keeps houses from falling in the ocean, protecting private property and the environment, or promotes the tourism industry that accounts for the other two-thirds of the Dare County economy, or provides NRPOs that pay taxes into our system that educates our children. It is a good thing Danny Couch is not going to be around for another 4 years to keep doing this!

    Clearly substance abuse, and the catastrophic damage it comes with are not a problem here. The audacity of creating public awareness campaigns, supporting local nonprofits (Dare Challenge), and giving first responders the tools needed to stop overdoses. This is uncalled for! Wally Overman and Ervin Bateman obviously are not doing a thing to help our county. What do they think? Are we supposed to use an initiative-taking approach to preventing and treating substance abuse? It is like they think reducing the number of people (and families) devastated by substance abuse is a good thing.

    From there they go and put Bea Basnight on the board. Like she worked for 35 years as a teacher, then served as the Board of Education Chair or something. What is that going to do? Something pointless, like making sure our schools continue to produce the best educated and equipped graduates to join the workforce. Heaven, forbid us to put someone with experience in charge of that small and insignificant element of our society. Who wants that?

    Let us save the best for last, Chairman Woodard. He oversees all of this and makes sure his fellow board members have what they need to be successful. Then he works with COA to get a building in downtown Manteo. Education and training beyond high school, in Dare County? You do not have to drive for hours to better yourself? Seriously? How does that benefit anyone? To make it worse, he has also struck a deal where graduates of Dare County schools can attend this place for FREE! I guess he is not in favor of our children drowning in student loans. It is like he wants the people to make more money and have better lives in his community. After that he goes and secures a spot for a youth center. What is his problem? Giving children a safe environment where they can learn constructive things. Appalling! These kids should be running the streets and picking up bad habits! Oh, I almost forgot. He has been listening to these working people that cannot afford to live in the area. As if they have important jobs like instructing our children, putting out our fires, taking care of our health, and keeping our community safe. Afterward, goes to the state and gets funding to help. Like that is not enough, when someone in Raleigh decides to unfairly change the law he has the gumption, with his board, to publicly denounce that action and commit to not utilizing the unethical loophole. Did you call this leadership? Who wants the chair to have principles and morals? What is next? Are we going to put together a taskforce of key stakeholders and let them get a say? Oh, wait…

    It is the same old, same old. This board shows hard work, dedication, and competency. Now they want us to vote for them again. What we need is change! Inexperienced leadership that will not be capable of helping our community or its citizens.

    Thursday, Jan 25 @ 4:59 pm
  • Sandflea

    Football jerseys? Holding a football and assigning people football positions? Hokey Dokey!

    Thursday, Jan 25 @ 5:59 pm
  • Cam

    Well said Terry Gore. They ain’t perfect but they sure do run a tight ship and focus on stuff that will serve us well into the future. Thanks to them all.

    Friday, Jan 26 @ 12:32 pm
  • Warnecki Francis

    Terry Gore,
    Thank you for taking the time to give credit to the people that “step up” and take on the challenges of guiding our County. This group ,and their pride in our county, should be thanked for their unselfish dedication to all of the residents and guests that I know appreciate their efforts!

    Again, Thank you for speaking up for the silent majority!

    Friday, Jan 26 @ 2:18 pm
  • Freenusa

    I would say, the Dare County Tourist Bureau, Dare County Chamber of Commerce and other tourist promoting agencies and businesses are to be blamed more than the Dare County Board of Commissioners.

    Friday, Jan 26 @ 10:29 pm
  • Derek

    Anyone can do a good job spending money, it takes talent to not spend like a drunken sailor who’s just gotten back from 18 months at sea without any shore leave!

    Sunday, Jan 28 @ 4:10 pm
  • Steve Johnson

    Terry, that was a long explanation, but you lost me early on…missed the point, what new things are you advocating? Seriously.

    Sunday, Jan 28 @ 6:40 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Steve, if I may interpret Terry, I would say that he was (albeit using sarcasm) defending the efforts and work of county officials.

    Sunday, Jan 28 @ 8:23 pm
  • Terry Gore

    @Mark Jurkowitz is correct.

    @Steve Johnson (and to others I was not clear to) that was an attempt, using sarcasm, to express that the County Commissioners are doing an excellent job. Specifically, regarding fiscal responsibility, supporting watermen and tourism, proactivity with the opioid epidemic, improving education on all levels, and addressing issues brought to them by the citizens of our county. I was trying to convey, through satire, that any assertion they are incapable or uncommitted is absurd. Furthermore, those up for re-election are worthy of our support predicated on these accomplishments.

    Monday, Jan 29 @ 4:52 pm