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HOURS ON THE OUTER BANKS

OUTLOOK Edition 2019


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THE COASTLAND TIMES


THE COASTLAND TIMES

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THE COASTLAND TIMES

CONTENTS

Outlook Edition from THE COASTLAND TIMES

Theresa Schneider general manager

Philip S. Ruckle Jr. staff writer

Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy staff writer

Blair Etheridge

marketing consultant

Hannah Caton

marketing consultant For additional copies, stop by our office at 207 Queen Elizabeth Avenue, Suite 10 in Manteo. Contact us by calling 252-473-2105, emailing news@thecoastlandtimes.com or by mail PO Box 400, Manteo, NC 27954.

Tri-County Emergency Communications Keeping Duck Safe Keeping A Constant Watch Always On Call The Milkman Thrill Of A Morning Ferry Ride What A Way To See Hatteras Island! Ready For The Call Connecting The Outer Banks To The Rest Of The World Jockey’s Ridge State Park A Local Wonder Vacation Management Gatekeeper A Key Person Taking Flight Small Engines A Big Job Learning And Fun Coexist Quick Change Artist Water, Water Everywhere Helping With Final Goodbyes Service With A Smile Cooking Together Great Music Some Fitness Fanatics Prefer Night Bowling Action Oceanfront Nightlife

5 6 7 8-9 10 11-12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 21 22-23 24 26 27 28 30-31 32-33 34-35 36 38

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12 AM

THE COASTLAND TIMES

Outlook 2019 5

Tri-County Emergency Communicators

BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

Any communications officer at the Regional Emergency Communications Center near Manteo will tell you that a key to success there is to be able to multi-task and to always keep in mind that every phone call can change your day. Monitoring the telephones for fire, police, ocean rescue and EMS crews spread out across Dare, Hyde and Tyrrell counties, the center handled 160,856 phone calls in 2018. Plug in the added responsibility of radio airway traffic with another 784,138 logged communications and it all works out to a phone call or radio transmission every 30 seconds of every minute of every hour of every day. During a recent midnight to 1 a.m. shift, Stacey Davis, supervisor for the night, advised that the level of activity there makes the ability to multi-task a very important skill. “It’s not too busy right now,” said Davis. “But in the summer when it’s busy, you have to be able to talk on the phone with one ear and listen to radio traffic with the other all at the same time.” Typing in communication messages to fire, police or EMS responders and reading emergency guidelines that apply to the call during that call also happen at the same time. It also helps to be able to listen to what fellow workers are doing in case they need help paging out responders before they can finish their call. Clearly, it’s not a job for just anyone off the street. In fact, according to Davis, it takes a minimum of a year to train a new communications worker. Not only to handle the radio and telephone lines, but to also meet all the police, medical and communication certifications required by the job. “It can go from zero to crazy in five seconds,” added Davis. “And a onecar accident can light up all the 9-1-1 phone lines. Multiple calls mean you have to verify that they are all the same accident while at the same time dispatching police, fire and EMS.”

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Regional Emergency Communications Center workers during a recent midnight to 1 a.m. shift included, from left, Amy Saffell, Kim Twiddy, Jeannie Leonard, Jessica Mellott (in back), Erin Putnam and Stacey Davis.

That’s why every person that works there is trained to do every job that has to be done. “The thing is that when you come into this job, it is so different from any other job,” offered Jeannie Leonard. “I was a general manager for Dunkin’ Donuts and the worst thing you could do was give somebody the wrong order. Here, a life hangs in the balance on almost every decision you make. Every phone call has the chance to change everything.” “And a lot of times they are screaming when they call,” added Kim Twiddy. “Then you have to calm them down to where you can actually get an address out of them. Or to even find out what the problem is.” Sometimes the problem is compounded by a visitor’s inability to provide a location for their emergency. Trying to find someone who only knows that they are renting a big blue house on the beach can raise frustration levels. Some house owners have started adding street numbers on the oceanside of their cottages. That helps with locating them. Landline 9-1-1 calls are able to be traced with a mandatory call back and an officer’s visit to the house. Cell phones are harder to locate.

Then there are the calls that are emotional. “Three cardiac arrest calls in one day are hard to handle,” offered Davis. “Especially when none of them survived. Sometimes you get attached. You can feel their pain.” “And sometimes there is no down time between call,” added Leonard. “Calls can range from someone hanging themselves to a dog loose, with no decompression time.” And a hurricane season can bring its own activity level. “We get constant calls to see if the roads are open or if the power is out,” explained Davis. “They want to know if they should cancel their vacation or if it’s even safe to come down.”

When there is down time, the family atmosphere brings out casual conversations between workers. And not all calls are justified emergencies. Some calls fit into the silly category, like when someone reported their hamburgers had been stolen, or another caller said a raccoon was in his bedroom in the bed with his wife. “You hear everything,” said Twiddy, “but never know when an emergency call will come in. You have to stay calm while getting cussed at, telling you to ‘just send them.’” “People don’t call 9-1-1 because they are having a good day,” said Leonard. “They’re calling because they want help.”


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Keeping Duck Safe

1 AM

BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

It’s 1:05 a.m. and Duck Master Police Officer Tammy Bybee is slowly patrolling the streets of Duck. All the businesses are closed and there are very few other cars on the road. When a car does pass, a radar unit on the dash beeps in recognition of the car’s presence. In spite of the isolation, Bybee is satisfied Duck is the right place to be. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” says Bybee. “Duck is a beautiful town. Especially if you compare Duck to bigger places like Detroit and Hampton. No thanks.” Working 12 hour shifts and rotating from day to night every eight weeks, she points out the obvious: that things are very slow this time of night, especially at this time of year. After heading south on NC 12 and turning around in the Aqua Restaurant parking lot, Bybee drives north to the Sanderling Inn. Then it’s time to check several businesses to make sure the doors are locked. “We do some riding around on the side streets and we have some requested residential checks we do,” explained Bybee. “We also do an average of 10 businesses a night. Nothing special, just get out and make sure the place is secured.” Bybee added that finding an open door does not always mean there is a problem. Some owners have been known to come and go at some very odd hours. “I like community policing,” Bybee continued. “It’s low key. But that’s not to say nothing ever happens here.” Having previously worked dispatch in Chesterfield, Va. with four different radio systems, she is no stranger to action. “That’s why I have a lot of respect for central dispatch,” she added.  She also worked in law enforcement with 125 other officers at the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond, Va. While Duck may not be a crime-free zone, Bybee is convinced the department’s license plate readers (LPR) that Police Chief John Cueto had installed have been a great crime-fighting tool.  “We have the capability of finding who is in town,” Said Bybee. “Come in or go out, we have you.” Bybee went on to say that while LPRs have proven to be a deterrent, she also gives kudos to other officers who have investigated crimes themselves and brought people to justice. “It gives the message that we are not messing around,” cautioned Bybee. There are other reasons to like Duck. “People are so appreciative here,” chimed in fellow Officer Chuck Edwards. “I’ve talked with officers in other areas that can’t believe it when they see how it is here.” “The majority of our job here is community policing, which puts us at a different level than it is in other places,” added Bybee. “It’s a different world up here.” “We have people retire here,” continued Edwards. “They don’t come to raise Cain. They’re looking to enjoy their time here.” Bybee went on to say that while a positive atmosphere in Duck does come from the people that live here, another factor in community policing includes positive interactions between police and local citizens.  “Being able to help others is a key,” Bybee continued. “We’re not here to put people in jail. Yes, we keep the peace and are peacemakers. But the majority of us in this profession are just like the nurses and people on the ambulances. It’s the love of giving.”

Master Police Officer Tammy Bybee on patrol around the Sanderling Inn.

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Duck Police Officer Chuck Edwards conducts a security check at the Brindley Beach Vacations and Sales office in Duck.


2 AM BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

In some respects, you could say all roads lead to the jail. It’s been called the Manteo Hilton and the Crossbar Hotel, but the correct moniker for the two-story brick structure on Driftwood Drive is to call it the Dare County Detention Center. A crew of trained correctional officers keep constant watch over the 50-90 inmates housed at the local facility. About 10 of the current residents are female. All are awaiting trial for a criminal offense or awaiting transport to a state prison after being convicted of one. A TV is on in the corner without sound, but nobody is watching. “It seems to run in extremes,” said the evening shift supervisor Cpl. S. Martin. “Yesterday, nobody was booked in.” At 2 a.m., a deputy has one young lady around the corner from the booking desk in front of a magistrate. If the magistrate finds probable cause for the offenses alleged, and commits the defendant to jail, she will come to the booking desk. At the booking desk, a photo is taken of the defendant and a computer check is made to see if they are a repeat visitor. There are also several questions related to physical and mental health. In some cases, a bail bondsman is already waiting to bond a defendant out. If so, they have a private area where they can talk and complete the transactions that lead to the defendant’s release until their court date.

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Keeping A Constant Watch No bondsman, no release. It’s a short walk from the booking desk to the shower and dressing room. After a complete search for any contraband, defendants swap out their street clothes for jail-issued clothing. There’s no room for fashion statements here, everybody wears the same style uniform. Everybody that stays also gets an arm band with their name on it. Street clothes go to the clothing room. Each person gets one bag for their personal effects. Valuables go into a safe with a zip tie on the bag and stay there until the defendant is released or transferred to another facility. While the shower and clothing transfer takes place, a correctional officer enters charges into a computer and a search is made to determine if they have been a resident before. Once the booking process is completed, a booking desk officer escorts the inmate through a series of heavy electric doors to one of the detention pods. Those doors are controlled by a central control officer who can monitor the building. “The control officer is an extra set of eyes,” said Martin. “They make sure the officer in the pod is safe. The control officer can control the water, lights and doors.” The whole experience adds a new meaning to the term controlled environment.  Tonight’s young lady will not be staying. A bondsman was on hand and she was released on bond until her court date.

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Dare County Detention Officer Victoria Buczkowski in is the clothing room, where street clothes are kept for detention center inmates.

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Dare County Detention Center shift supervisor Cpl. S. Martin stands in an empty cell within the detention center.


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THE COASTLAND TIMES

Always On Call BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

Sitting in a dimly-lit room at a desk inside the Emergency Medical Services center in Kill Devil Hills, Captain Larry Grubbs often uses the quiet hours of an overnight shift to check over paperwork from the day’s EMS calls, work on scheduling and verify time clock matters. Grubbs is one of four supervisors, each working a different 24-hour shift for an agency focused on pre-hospital emergency medical care and transportation for Dare County residents as well as visitors to the Outer Banks. “This is the time of day when things have usually settled down,” explained Grubbs. “It gives us a chance to check reports on patient care and make sure they are filled out correctly, verify all the billings are in order, as well as take care of other administrative functions.” One of those administrative functions is to schedule medical transports – called long hauls – to other medical facilities.

At an hour of the day that seems like oh-darkthirty, he has two ambulances on the road. One truck is on the way to a hospital Greenville, if not already there and on the way back, and a second truck is heading to a second Greenville location. “Most of these long hauls are late at night,” said Grubbs. “That’s because all our out-lying areas discharge their patients in the afternoon between 2 and 4 p.m. After housekeeping cleans up the room, Outer Banks Hospital will get a call saying a bed is open. So once they start getting those calls, around six or seven in the evening, then the transports start going out.” Grubbs also said that trips cannot start any sooner because patients can’t be sent from one hospital to another unless a bed is actually waiting for them. “So we tend to spend the nighttime hours running back and forth to other facilities,” said Grubbs. With more than two dozen EMS staff stationed at eight different facilities throughout

3 AM Dare County at any given time, Grubbs has several locations to pick from to pull staff for a transport. Those locations include: • Station 1: Kill Devil Hills with two 24-hour trucks. It also serves as the main headquarters with administrative offices and main supply storage. • Station 2: Manteo has one 24-hour truck and one part time truck with a current budget request to make both trucks 24-hours. • Station 3: Frisco has two 24-hour trucks. • Station 4: Southern Shores has two trucks. • Station 5: Nags Head has one 24-hour truck due to space limitations. • Station 6: Rodanthe has one 24-hour truck. • Station 8: Manns Harbor has one 24-hour truck. The other location, Station 7, is the home of Dare MedFlight. “This is a very rewarding job,” said Grubbs. “Nobody gets in to get rich. They get in to serve.”


THE COASTLAND TIMES

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Butch Lucas, left, and Ben Leo demonstrate how an EMS stretcher can be operated by one person with one hand.

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PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

EMS Captain Larry Grubbs uses his late night and early morning shift hours to check paperwork, schedule transports and handle other administrative functions.

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THE COASTLAND TIMES

4 AM

The Milkman BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

By 4 a.m., Dustin Leary is already well into his shift as a Maola Milk Truck delivery driver. Although his shift begins at 3 a.m., Leary’s day actually starts about midnight, when he gets up to make the drive east from Creswell to the Manteo Maola plant. After picking up his paperwork in the plant office, he’s out the door and on his way to Corolla or Ocracoke. While not an overly difficult job, Leary said the hardest part can often be the continuous lifting. The repeated picking up and setting down of all those milk containers. “There is a lot of lifting,” cautioned Leary. “It is not as easy as it looks.” That’s one reason after completing his runs Leary loads his truck each afternoon before going home: then it’s ready in the morning.

“It’s best to load before it gets dark so it will be ready in the morning,” explained Leary. “Then all you have to do in the morning is jump in the truck and head out. One thing you don’t want to do is be loading the truck at three o’clock in the morning. That will make for a long day. A very long day.” Leary said it takes about an hour or so to load his truck. After departing the plant around 3 a.m., by 4 a.m. Leary is well into the route making his way up or down the beach to deliver milk and coffee creamer to various grocery and convenience stores, with a few schools mixed in as well. Most winter days, he can make it back to the plant about 12 hours after his morning departure. During the summer, with a lot more traffic on the road, it often takes a little longer to run the same route. When headed to Ocracoke, he

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Dustin Leary’s route from Corolla to Ocracoke as a milk truck delivery driver not only requires getting up in the early morning hours, but there is also a lot of lifting.

wants to get the ferry ride behind him as soon as possible. “I like to get the ferry ride over first,” Leary explained. “It gets a little crazy down there. Especially in the summer.” As a vendor, he qualifies for the priority line, which helps shorten the wait. On Ocracoke Island, he only has two stops – a school and a grocery store – but there are about a dozen stops along the return trip. Even with the early morning hours, the continuous lifting and being on the road by himself, Leary said he can find some satisfaction with the job. t We’ve go! s p m ca

“When you are out on the road on your own, you don’t have to worry about anybody else,” Leary commented. “There’s nobody to answer to. You just do what you’ve got to do. What more can you ask for?” Most of his runs today are solo trips. Generally, the only time a driver is with someone it’s for training with a more experienced driver. Leary said he was with someone for training when he started. “The most important part was to learn how to organize my crates according to expiration dates,” he said. “The dates are the number one key. You have to switch the dates out.”

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THE COASTLAND TIMES

5 AM

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Thrill Of A Morning Ferry Ride BY MARY HELEN GOODLOE-MURPHY

At 4:45 a.m., the Hatteras village ferry terminal was shrouded in darkness. The  MV Chicamacomico  blazed forth at the docks. Shortly before 5 o’clock, the six-member North Carolina ferry crew walked with purpose toward the ferry. The crew’s work day started with loading a truck with a 46-foot trailer, an elongated van, a tandem setup for open trash containers and a personal vehicle. The  Chicamacomico  is a small, Hatteras-class ferry, capable of hauling 26 vehicles across Hatteras Inlet. The vessel, built in 1990, weighs 275 gross tons, is 150 feet in length and 42 feet in the beam. Loaded, it has a four-foot draft. On this day, the licensed crew was led by Captain Anthony Gavetti, who has piloted North Carolina ferries for 15 years. The  Chicamacomico  is not a double-ender. The captain maneuvered the boat out of the dock, backed into the basin and executed a perfect turn to head out to the Pamlico Sound. In the darkness, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse flashes out. Water and communication towers wink red warnings. A half-moon played hide and seek with some clouds. To find his way in the dark, Captain Gavetti

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aimed a powerful light toward a buoy and then repeated the process. But on the console was a mighty electronic helper that showed the horseshoe-shaped route. Follow that route to what ferry people call the “south dock,” which is the dock on the south side of Hatteras Inlet, i.e. Ocracoke. The ferry ride around Hatteras Inlet offers an hour-long experience of life on the water. While it was dark on the water at the end of February, by mid-June passengers on the 5 a.m. ferry out of Hatteras will see the sun rise. The day before this trip, Pamlico Sound was like glass, ever so smooth. The atmosphere was so clear

that Captain Gavetti could see the structure of a communications tower in Engelhard some 22 miles across the water. With the captain was Able-bodied Seaman Mike Swindell. He stood quietly by the door, carefully watching. After his studies, Swindell will stand for his captain’s exam. The captain’s aerie is quiet and offers beautiful views. That’s not the case down below. The engines powering the Chicamacomico are loud, very loud. Chief Engineer Rudy D. Austin and Oiler Robbie Meekins wear ear protectors. Driving the ferry are two Caterpillar C-18, 6-cylinder, 600 horsepower diesel engines. In the engine room are two generators. In case of failure, an emergency generator is topside. The down-below ferry men also maintain the vessel’s onboard wastewater treatment system. On this day, another Captain, Norman Kent, was called in to substitute for a sick crew member. On deck duty was Ordinary Seaman H.W. “Woody” Ledford, Jr. Working for the state’s ferry system is Ledford’s retirement job. For his seven-day shift, he travels eight and half hours from Leicester, which is the other side of Asheville. When in Hatteras, he stays in one of two ferry division dormitories. Says Ledford of his new workplace, “it’s beautiful. It’s all new.” SEE MORE PHOTOS PAGE 12


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In the engine room are Chief Engineer Rudy D. Austin and Oiler Robbie Meekins.

MARY HELEN GOODLOE-MURPHY PHOTO

Greg Cook leaves Bath at 1 a.m. to make the 5 a.m. Hatteras ferry to Ocracoke hauling empty containers for David’s Trash Service. In the winter, he makes the trip two or three times. In the season, he sometimes goes every day taking the Swan Quarter route.

MARY HELEN GOODLOE-MURPHY PHOTO

MARY HELEN GOODLOE-MURPHY PHOTO

C.H. McDonald drives for SpartanNash. He left Lumberton at 11:15 p.m. and arrived at the Hatteras village ferry docks at 4:45 a.m. His 48-foot trailer is three-quarters full of items for delivery in Ocracoke. In the winter, he makes the trip every other week. In season, McDonald comes every week.

MARY HELEN GOODLOE-MURPHY PHOTO

The crew members aboard MV Chicamacomico are, from left, Chief Engineer Rudy D. Austin, Ordinary Seaman H.W. “Woody” Ledford Jr., Captain Anthony Gavetti, Captain Norman Kent, Oiler Robbie Meekins and Able-bodied Seaman Mike T. Swindell.


6 AM

What A Way To See Hatteras Island!

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Outlook 2019 13

BY MARY HELEN GOODLOE-MURPHY

On Hatteras Island, sanitation truck drivers visit every street twice a week. It’s a unique way to see the seven island villages. It is always dark when Dale Farrow climbs into his very big, 3,400 pound side-loading truck. In summertime, Farrow starts his route around midnight. In the winter, the time is about 3 a.m. He was finishing his oceanside Rodanthe route at 6 a.m. as he expertly drove his truck down paved roads, narrow, crumbling concrete roads and sandy roads to empty garbage cans. Farrow’s truck pushes out prongs. He can empty around 100 cans an hour on his route through historic Kinnakeet and all the oceanside in Hatteras Island’s northern three villages. About 650 to 700 cans will fill up his truck. When the truck is full, Farrow heads for the transfer station in Manns Harbor. He empties around 50,000 pounds of trash from the truck and then goes to the Dare County Public Works yard in Manteo to wash the truck inside and out. It takes about an hour and a half one way. Sometimes in the summer, Farrow will make two runs to Manns Harbor. On Hatteras Island, Farrow shares pickup duty with four other residential trash drivers. Farrow and those drivers work Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday until the routes are finished, which is usuDale Farrow, a Dare County sanitation truck ally about 10 hours a day. driver, empties trash cans on Hatteras Ten hours a day in the seat of a sanitaIsland. tion truck? Yep. Those seats adjust to fit the driver and are air cushioned. Farrow slowly goes through potholes and speedbumps. The seats absorb what could be jarring hits. The cab is relatively quiet. On the console is a video monitor that shows a can dump in progress and if the cavernous truck body is approaching full. The cab does not stink. After 30 years of fishing, Farrow retired. On the advice of a friend, he got a commercial driving license and applied for a job with Dare Public Works. Some may remember him as the fisherman poet who read a newly penned poem at almost every Day at the Docks Blessing of the Fleet. He’s been driving a trash truck for three years. It’s twice as hard to empty cans in the daylight, he says. More cars, children playing, dogs yakking. In Rodanthe, some roads require three-point turns at the end, as long as property owners will permit the truck to pull into a driveway. On other roads without a cul-de-sac or willing owner, Farrow will reverse back to NC 12. And, then if a garbage can needs emptying on the other side of the road, he’ll back down the road to empty the can. On one road, blown sand had stacked up in the roadway. Farrow used all eight rear tires to push through the sand. A Dare County rule requires property owners or agents to pull trash cans back to the house. That’s not done for all homes. Be kind to Farrow and the other sanitation truck drivers: place cans three feet apart. If cans are too close together, the prongs cannot center on the can. And watch that the can is not directly under an overhead line or in front of a utility pole. The can will be lifted up and dumped at the top of the big truck.

Deep sand blocks a road in Rodanthe.

MARY HELEN GOODLOE-MURPHY PHOTOS


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THE COASTLAND TIMES

Ready For The Call BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

From the outside, things may appear a little slow at the Kill Devil Hills Fire Department between 7 and 8 a.m., but looks can be deceiving. On a typical day one recent Saturday, as traffic sped by along U.S. 158, the department’s B-Shift was preparing for the daily 7:30 a.m. shift change, with members from C-Shift joining them in the dayroom. Working rotations, each shift pulls a 24 hour stint followed by 48 hours off. By the end of the month, everyone put has put in 212 hours.  Generally, during the final few minutes of their duty time, the shift going off duty makes sure the station is in order. They also make sure the coffee is on and the trash is out. “We try to finish any paperwork,” explains Sgt. Hank Boyce. “We also send out a pass-down email to give everyone an update on anything that took place during the previous 24 hours.” On this particular day, there had been a 4 a.m. structure fire in Kitty Hawk. After providing mutual aid assistance, the crew returned to the station and was still up after that call.

While Boyce sits at a table to share information about events on his shift with the oncoming duty officer, Sgt. Zack Watson, other crew members from the two shifts are scattered around the day room talking about other events like an EMS skateboard call for medical attention, an incident in Nags Head and any special events that might be planned for the day. There is also some talk about the weather and some off-duty information. One person is building or renovating a house and shared some of those details. A large-screen TV is on in the background, but nobody appears to be watching or listening. After a few minutes, a third crew shows up. They will be taking a truck to another station for a training class and it takes a few minutes to work out the logistics of which vehicle they will take and how they will respond if there is a first alarm. “We set the day at shift change,” explains Watson. “We go over the SOG, daily activities and learn about what we didn’t know so we can solve the problems of the world.” Watson checks the schedule to con-

firm that everyone is here and on time. With Boyce and his crew – John Church, Ben Battle, Louis Rodriguez and Sammy Barnes – headed out the door, Watson and his crew spread out for a check list of activities. “Coffee, communication, preparedness,” said Watson. Moving out into the truck bay, it’s time for equipment checks. As the officer for the day, Watson checks the engine’s onboard computer and accountability tags on the first rig out.  Each firefighter has a name tag. At a fire call, tags go to the Incident Commander so everyone on the fireground can be accounted for. “Some of this may seem redundant,” said Watson. “But it has to be checked every shift to make sure everything works like it should.” After setting up the accountability tags, Watson check the computer CAD, the iPad and the Knox Box key-holder. Everybody checks something.  Crew also rotate seats each shift. Next shift, today’s driver will go to the nozzle position. With the first-out engine set up and

7 AM ready to go, Watson makes a walking tour around the outside of the building and the training tower. Although he has found people sleeping in the nearby ballfield dugout, run across people waiting at the administration side of the building or people waiting outside asking for child car seat safety checks, there is nothing unusual today.   Back inside the building, it’s time to check the refrigerator for food. Two firefighters are in the day room chatting about some personal life events. Two others are at a table sharing discussion notes from an EMS class one of them is taking. Later in the day, there will be training and other activities to fill the hours, unless an emergency call comes in. “This shift averaged three to six calls a day,” advised Watson. “It’s not just busy summers anymore.” According to department records, Kill Devil Hills had a record 1,653 calls last year. “When the alarm goes off, everybody has got to be ready,” said Watson. “We do what we’ve got to do to get four warm bodies out the door within a minute or minute and a half of a call. So we get it done.”

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Kill Devil Hills Fire Department C-Shift members, from left, Master Firefighter Devin Clark, Master Firefighter Ryan Ward, Sgt. Zack Watson, Firefighter Royce Noble and Firefighter Benn Cobb are ready for a call. Not pictured is Captain Jody Long.


8 AM BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

On any given day, you might find Pat Bunce out in the woods, working in an open field or digging a trench near a major highway just a few feet from passing traffic. One recent overcast and rainy morning at 8 a.m., Bunce was in Nags Head near the intersection of Grouse Street and NC 12 watching members of his work crew complete an underground directional bore. Once the tunnel was completed, they would begin pulling long sections of communication cables through the new opening in the ground from an in-ground vault about 500 or 600 feet away. The owner of DownEast Underground, Bunce explained that he and his crew were installing 5G fiber optic cables for CenturyLink. When completed, new fiber optic cables will run from south Nags Head all the way north to the end of the pavement in Corolla.  “This is going to change the way people connect to the internet,” said Bunce.  How different? According to Bunce, there will no longer be any need to run wire strands from poles along the street into homes or other structures. Pointing to the top of a nearby pole, he said with a wireless hub and router, customers in this area can wirelessly connect to that antenna out on the street.  “This will do away with wires for in-

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Outlook 2019 15

Connecting The Outer Banks To The Rest Of The World ternet connections,” he added. There are more than a dozen wireless connections already in place. “As we get these towers lit up, there will be less and less wire installation to be done,” he continued. “That’s because more and more people are going wireless with their tablets and phones. So now the capability will be here. Installing copper or coax will become a dying thing as time goes on. I’m surprised they put 5G here on the Outer Banks as quick as they did. Must be a lot of people coming to town for the demand of it.” A 30-year old technology, the information running through these cables is converted to light and sent along little glass hairs. At a house or business, the data is converted back from light onto the copper cables. “It’s amazing what one glass fiber cable can carry,” said Bunce. “All of Hatteras Island is only on two or four fibers.” Not limited to communications work only, Bunce and his crew will be in Corolla the next day digging a water main for Basnight Construction. “They are having us dig from a retaining pond and pull a pipe under Highway 12 so they don’t have to close the road,” said Bunce. “Most of our work is digging and drilling. Water mains, sewers, fiber optics and power. And a lot of private power for electricians who get work that requires them to dig, or if they don’t have the equipment or capabilities, they have

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Pat Bunce pulls a section of pipe along NC 12 that will house 5G fiber optic cables, hair-thin strands of glass or plastic that carry TV, internet or voice transmission as pulses of light.

us come drill it.” With an inventory of mini excavators, directional drills and vibratory plows on hand, Bunce and his crew might be called to work anywhere from Ocracoke to Carova, Elizabeth City to Ahoskie or all the way out to Williamston. “Basically, we loop around the Albemarle Sound,” he added. Their longest bore? That was part of a bridge replacement run 1,200 feet under a creek on Highway 94 in Gum Neck near the Hyde County line. As the long hand on the clock started inching upward, it was starting to rain. Again. “We were getting set up in the rain,” explained Bunce. “We don’t have much sunshine these days, but we came any-

way because the guys need to work. They’re calling for rain all week.” Bunce said they felt if there was a break in the rain, they could probably finish the job. By the time they were set up, it had quit raining. “We have worked in the rain depending on the work, how hard it’s raining and how nasty it is,” added Bunce. “It kept getting lighter, so we decided to go ahead. We can work in the rain, but takes a toll on people. You’re just asking for someone to get sick, so it depends on the urgency of the job.” By 9 a.m., Bunce and his crew were done.  “This site is ready,” declared Bunce. “CenturyLink will come back and hook up the network.”


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THE COASTLAND TIMES

9 AM

Jockey’s Ridge State Park A Local Wonder BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park Superintendent Joy Greenwood says she tries to get a jump on her day between 9 and 10 a.m. each morning with a review of emails and a look at any offhour issues that may have come up from the night before. “There really is no typical day,” explains Greenwood. “I try to go through my 4,000 emails and if I have any meetings, I like to get them out of the way. But no two days ever turn out to be the same.” While meetings tend to be a major part of her park-related duties, some of them are intended to provide information to others – like a recent activity update report for members of the Dare County Tourism Board – while

other meetings open the door to receive information, like with participants involved in a sand relocation project underway. Another series of meetings about to take place are expected to involve twoway communications when the visitors center gets a complete makeover. “The visitors center is now 30 years old,” explains Greenwood. “We’re going to re-do the entire visitors center, enclose the atrium, expand the exhibit area and re-do the auditorium. The exhibits hall will be so much nicer and we’ll add some exhibits to the auditorium.” After sending the job out to bid in May or June, work is expected to start in September. “It’s a nine month contract,” explains Greenwood. “So the Park will

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Jockey’s Ridge State Park Superintendent Joy Greenwood prepares to review renovation plans for the 30-yearold visitors center. Current plans call for closing the center from Labor Day until Memorial Day, but the park will continue to open every day except Christmas.

be open, but the visitors center will be closed from Labor Day until Memorial Day.” When the renovation does take place, it will not be the first project for Greenwood. During more than 21 years with NC State Parks, she’s worked at Goose Creek, Pettigrew and Merchants Millpond in addition to Dismal Swamp, where she opened the visitor centers and swing bridge. The big different between Jockey’s Ridge and the other parks, she says, is what needs to be managed. According to Greenwood, Dismal Swamp has more than 14,000 acres with a low visitor count. Jockey’s Ridge, with a mere 426 acres and home to the tallest active sand dune system in the eastern United States, has the highest visitation in the state. “We had more than 1.5 million visitors the past couple of years,” explains Greenwood. “At other parks, it was

more natural resource management. Prescribed fires and building water control structures. Here we are more focused on managing people in the parks than resources.” “Here it’s visitor safety,” she adds. “Especially in the summer when you can have as many as three to four thousand people up on the top of the ridge. Heat emergencies are just one problem.” To counter that, park staff have started taking water out on the dune during high temperature days, which has reduced the number of heat emergencies and 9-1-1 calls incredibly. Another difference is the view. “We have the most beautiful sunsets,” she adds. “After we got here, I took my family out for the view and we still enjoy that today. The colors are so different each night. I think sometimes as locals we forget what treasures we have right here in our backyard.”


THE COASTLAND TIMES

10 AM

Outlook 2019 17

Vacation Management

BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

Lisa Beasley is convinced she has the perfect job. An Outer Banks resident since she was four, Beasley said she always wanted a stable career on the Outer Banks and to help people. As a rental manager for Resort Realty in Nags Head, she’s achieved those goals. “I worked as a store manager for a department store,” Beasley explained, “but they moved us all around.” It didn’t take her long to find a replacement career. “I got my Realtor license because this is a business that will never go away here on the beach. Tourism is certainly what drives the island,” she said. But there was more to it than that. “I love vacations and think it’s extremely important to have that time away with your family,” she continued. “And I really enjoy helping people have a better vacation. That is kind of what attracted me to the job.” As a rental manager, she deals with homeowners in the company’s rental program almost daily with an outgoing personality and ever-present smile. “I love working with the owners,” added Beasley. “One of the best parts of this job is working with the owners.” There’s plenty of opportunities for interaction. Resort Realty has about 600 of the estimated 15,000 rental units on the Outer Banks, with a couple of hundred in Nags Head alone. And, according to Beasley, there is something for everyone from all across the spectrum. “It’s all here,” boasted Beasley. “From small, quaint little outdated cottages and newer smaller homes that are perfect for young or old couples looking for a beach getaway all the way up to the large and modern luxury homes and plenty of others in between. There really is something for everybody. And you know, everybody

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.PHOTO

As a vacation rental manager, Lisa Beasley interacts with homeowners in her company’s rental program almost daily and considers that to be one of the best parts of her job, with no two days exactly alike.

needs a vacation.” With the beginning of the traditional rental season right around the corner, Beasley spends part of her day helping owners to get ready. “This time of year we’re getting out and doing inspections on the houses,” Beasley explained. “We’re looking to see what is needed to get them ready for the vacation season.” Beasley said the primary concern is any suggested maintenance items that owners need to get their houses ready for the season. Going through each house, a report includes information on the exterior, bathrooms, bedrooms and all other interior rooms. A nearby beach access is also considered. “We try to let them know what to do to get them ready,” continued Beasley. “That’s the biggest thing at this time of year.” Of course, some house checks turn up more than maintenance issues.  “When I got inside one house I

found alcohol, food, clothes and fresh popcorn in the trash can,” she commented. “This guy had actually taken a picture off the wall in the master bedroom and put up a picture of him and his girlfriend. They just moved right in. Just like they owned the place and as if nobody was ever going to notice.” Beasley said it appeared the squatters came in through a window and were using an oceanside door to avoid detection. “We called the police and let them come and get them out,” Beasley continued. “We re-secured the house and the police confiscated all his stuff. His passport was even in there. It was all pretty exciting, although they never actually found the guy.” Beasley said that over the years she has found that no two days are alike. “There really is no real normal,” she added. “I’m always talking with owners, following up on email. In the next few weeks, we will be working rates.

We’ll also check reservations to see if anybody is falling behind and might need some weeks on special or an extra marketing push. It is always something different and I love that.” Beasley went on to say there are times she does more than just check on a house for an owner. “I’ve got TVs and headboards and other things over here,” said Beasley motioning to a corner of her office. “They’re for one of my owners that doesn’t get down much and asked if I would help with some decor items.” Beasley said at the owner’s request, she went shopping and bought all the things the owner requested. When she takes them to the designated home, pictures will be sent to the owners. “So it’s always something different,” Beasley added. “But it’s all fun. And that’s another thing I love, to shop for owners. Shopping with other people’s money is fun. But I still always try to be frugal.”


18 Outlook 2019

THE COASTLAND TIMES

Gatekeeper A Key Person

BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

As one of four Pirate’s Cove gatekeepers for the residential community on the causeway between Manteo and Nags Head, Sam Ball often has a watchful eye on the vehicle traffic entering and leaving the gated waterfront community. “Basically, it’s the same every hour of every day,” advises Ball. “We admit people onto the property. It’s not as extreme as police work because we don’t arrest anyone, but we can, if needed, keep them from coming onto the property. We don’t use force, but if someone refuses to leave, we call the police and they take care of it.” While the majority of winter visitors might be construction workers, real estate agents and a few vacationers sprinkled into the mix, there are also a number of year-round residents that pass under his watchful eyes.

“We do have some regular residents here year-round,” explains Ball. “Anyone else entering, we log them down. We note where they are going, what they drive and how long they are going to be there.” Providing different color passes for different type visits, Ball and his three co-workers also keep a log of activities in and around the gate. “Owners will call us about contractors and visitors and just about everything,” says Ball. “So we have to know who has authority to get keys. We log it in if they have permission to get a key or if they already have a key.” One recent morning between 11 a.m. and noon, about a half dozen vehicles stopped at the gatehouse. Most interactions to verify a visitor’s purpose, the intended address and if any keys are needed, take just over 30 seconds. As the summer vacation season peaks, however, the number of vehi-

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PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Sam Ball, a Pirate’s Cove gatekeeper, has a lot of keys to keep track of for the gated waterfront community.

cles grows tremendously. “The number fluctuates,” explains Ball, “but we could have between 30 and 40 vehicles pass through here during any 30 minutes in our peak season. At times, it can be wall-to-wall golf carts and children. So it gets pretty busy here in the summer.” Watching cars is not the only duty that keeps Ball busy. Although some vacation homes utilize keyless entry systems, a sizable number of the 583 condominiums, townhome-style condos and traditional homes use keys. Keys the gatekeepers must keep track of.  “Sometimes these keys can get tedious,” he says with a chuckle while returning several to their designated hangers. “Two or three are not bad, but when they get a whole condo unit, that takes a while.” While replacing keys, a car stops at the door and Ball recognizes the driver. “That’s another thing we do,” he adds. “We serve as mailmen.”  After a short chat on how long a package had been waiting, the owner is soon on her way with her prize. “We get packages for homeowners,” he explains, pointing to several under the gatehouse desk. “I like to call the homeowner and tell them they have a package up here, because the majority of the time they don’t know they are here. They can come get them when they want to, I just want to be sure they know it’s here. I’ve delivered two today.” “Our main thing here is the homeowner,” explains Ball. “We work for the homeowners association. We do look after the marina because it is right here. That’s not a major part of

the job, but it is part of the area. Usually if something happens there, we call the appropriate number.” That doesn’t mean Ball is stuck at the gatehouse. There have been cases during his 14 years on the job that the fire department or EMS do not know where they are going, so he took them there. “If it’s an emergency, we try to help,” he adds. “Otherwise we try to call the one that can best handle that situation.” Ball went on to say that if it’s a small task and nobody else is around to handle it, he will go ahead and take care of it.  “It is more or less a lot like police work,” he continues. “Dealing with people.” A stack of dog treats near the door is evidence it is more than just a people job.  “We make a lot of friends with dogs,” Ball explains. “Some of them will get loose from their pens or residence and this will be the first place they come. Because of the treats, this will be the first place they hit.” “A lot of times when their owners are walking them,” he continues, “it seems like they are walking their owners when they get close to here. They drag them over here just for the treats.” A retired police officer with the Town of Manteo after 30 years on the force, Ball says his police experience has helped to some degree but the jobs are not the same.  “I like this job because I get to see people,” says Ball “And it’s a chance to stay more or less in touch with what’s going on with the public, a lot like when I was with the police department.”


THE COASTLAND TIMES

12 PM

Taking Flight BY BLAIR ETHERIDGE

Most kids dream of flying through the air like a superhero. Bruce Weaver can make this dream a reality. Weaver has been a hang gliding instructor for over 30 years. Currently the fight school manager at Kitty Hawk Kites, he got his start by taking a hang gliding class and was immediately hooked. Within a year, he was certified to teach the sport he fell in love with. Many people think hang gliding is hurling yourself off a dune and hopefully catching wind under your hang glider and coasting down to a soft landing. Weaver explained that is a common misconception. “Most people think that you jump off the dune and if you survive the landing you do it again,” chuckled Weaver. There is finesse and skill that is involved in each flight, but don’t let that scare you away – Weaver says 90% of their students come to him as a first-time flier. Another fallacy is that hang gliding is a short drift from the jump point to landing on the ground. According to Weaver, experienced hang gliders often will have sustained flights. The longest flight here on the Outer Banks was almost seven and half hours straight! Weaver explained why so many people associate hang gliding with the Outer Banks. “We have visibility here that most places don’t have.” Most hang gliding schools are in the

middle of remote fields or mountains. If you are not looking for them, you do not know they are there. Jockey’s Ridge provides the perfect place for hang gliding enthusiasts and firsttime fliers to soar off the dunes with an audience. Jockey’s Ridge is right in the middle of the action here on the Outer Banks and this brings a built-in audience. Billy Vaughn, another instructor, stopped in after a solo flight on the beach to tell Weaver about the amazing weather conditions that morning. Vaughn, like Weaver, was also immediately hooked on hang gliding after his first try. He took a lesson one summer to spend time with a girl. The girl did not stick around, but hang gliding did. Vaughn is currently an instructor at Kitty Hawk Kites and a historian on the father of modern hang gliding, Francis Rogallo. A typical class with Weaver and his team at Kitty Hawk Kites starts with a class on the history of flight, the mechanics of a hang glider and how to safely fly one. Each student is then outfitted with a chest harness and helmet. Once everyone is outfitted, the class treks to the top of the sand dune. The instructor will demonstrate how to clip into the hang glider, how to slow down, speed up, how to turn and most importantly, how to land. The student then clips themself onto what looks like a large butterfly and walks through safety checks with the instructors.

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BLAIR ETHERIDGE PHOTO

Drake demonstrating a flight after take off with Billy.

Now, it is time to take off. The flier begins to run, with the instructor running next to them the whole way, coaching them to ensure a safe flight. Suddenly the student is actually flying off the dune! Coasting down to the ground and you hear the instructor

yell “flare” to signal to the flier to prepare their body for the landing position. Each landing produced a student with a huge smile running up the dune to get ready for the next flight yelling “that was amazing!”

Ayden running to take off with help of instructors Billy and Drake.

BLAIR ETHERIDGE PHOTO


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1 PM

Small Engines A Big Job

BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

When faced with a small engine repair, as a small engine mechanic, one of the first things Jonathan Britton will do at Shoreline Outdoor Power Center near Grandy is to treat it much the same way a doctor would treat a patient. “We treat every machine like it was a patient,” said Britton. “Just like when you go to a doctor. If it’s been here before, we look for history because that can sometimes help solve problems. Then we try to determine the cause and the proper correction for the unit. Then we facilitate the repair.” It doesn’t end there. “Then comes the education to the customer,” continued Britton. “Don’t forget the education time. Once it’s repaired, we educate the customer on how to prolong the life of equipment. That includes maintenance requirements for our area and the different fuel requirements.” Britton went on to say the Outer Banks has a unique and harsh environment. Not only because of the salt in the air, but also from the humidity that affects the fuel.  “And, of course, ethanol fuel is our best friend,” added Britton. “That’s a lot of the reason why we are here. Everything we deal with is seasonal and sits for an extended time before it is used.” Ethanol fuel is simply the same type of alcohol consumed in alcoholic beverages, ethyl alcohol, used as a fuel additive. Gasoline pumps today that con-

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Outlook 2019 21

tain ethanol have a 10 percent content. “Ethanol fuel is alcohol,” explained Britton. “And it loves and has an affinity for water. We live in a nice humid environment that can reach 90 percent in the summer. Ethanol fuel absorbs all that moisture until it is super saturated. Then when it comes back out, it forms an acid when it comes out of saturation.” Because ethanol gas breaks down quickly, it creates corrosion of any metals involved including carburetors, which are made of aluminum, producing aluminum oxide. So how do you combat the effects of ethanol? “If you don’t use it you lose it,” said Britton. “You have to keep it running. Starting it once a week, a minimum of PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO once a month.” Jonathan Britton, a mechanic at Shoreline Outdoor Power Center near Grandy, displays the corrosive effects Britton said also that fuel stabiliz- of ethanol fuel to a carburetor. Because ethanol gas breaks down quickly, it corrodes any metals involved, ers and ethanol inhibitors can help, including carburetors, which are made of aluminum, producing aluminum oxide. but they are not an unending solution. Adding a stabilizer helps prolong the potency of fuel but it but it can still go bad. “The manufactures say anything 10 to 15 days untreated is stale,” added Britton. “People tell me they added a stabilizer, but that treatment is like sticking milk in the fridge: it can’t stay there forever and will eventually go bad.”  Another avenue is switching to battery operated devices.  “Chain saws, drills and other handheld items are starting to go in that direction to get around fuel issues and emissions” said Britton.


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THE COASTLAND TIMES

Learning And Fun Coexist BY JULIO MORALES, HYDE COUNTY SCHOOLS

While the three schools that make up Hyde  County  Schools always have plenty of engaging, fun and meaningful activities that support student learning at all times, the 2 p.m. hour has several special highlights. Our fifth graders at Mattamuskeet Elementary School love the challenge of a Break Out/Escape Room. Not only do they work on reading comprehension skills, they also focus on developing growth mindsets and working cooperatively with teammates. The competition level is always high when they get to do this particular activity, but the teamwork and collaboration always win out. At Mattamuskeet Early College High School, there is a Human Graphing Grid activity taking place in the sixth grade math class while they learn about a coordinate plane. They jump right in and become points and intersections on the x- and y-axis. Using skills from their previous lessons on integers, students line up as either

positive or negative numbers and then explore each of the four quadrants as plotted points. In the next segment of this lesson, students will explore careers that use grids and graphing as they continue to connect mathematics to their own lives. On this day, the Early College is also hosting a Public Safety Career Fair in the gym and parking lot, which included the N.C. Ferry Division. On our Ocracoke School campus, high school English-Language Arts students are finishing a seminar on “A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream” and preparing to attend a live performance of Shakespeare’s play. The Earth and Environmental Science students are creating proportional timelines across the room. Also noteworthy is the resurrection of the school’s Spelling Bee contest. Ocracoke had not hosted a competition since 2013, but thanks to the willingness of fifth grade teacher Ms. Jeanie Owens, this program is now back on track. It is available to any student in grades four through

2 PM eight. We are also very proud of the radio stations that support both school campuses. On Ocracoke Island, the Ocracoke Community Radio WOVV 90.1 FM helps Ocracoke School by broadcasting local stories of interest, interviewing local personalities and play-by-play of JV and varsity basketball home games. Peter Vankevich works hard to promote the use of this local treasure. On the mainland, the Mattamuskeet School Campus boasts a radio station of its own that broadcasts special events and NPR radio. Mattamuskeet Early College English Language Arts instructor Ms. Vanessa Bryant is in charge of the workings of the station as part of her duties. We strive to tailor every student’s educational experience to prepare them for the rapidly changing demands of their individual futures. We want our students’ time in Hyde  County Schools to be valuable and memorable and we love what we do!


HYDE COUNTY SCHOOLS PHOTOS

The Ferry Division participated in an afternoon career fair at the Early College.

Mattamuskeet Early College High School students participate in a Human Graphing Grid activity.

The Spelling Bee is back at Ocracoke School.

THE COASTLAND TIMES

Earth and Environmental Science students at Ocracoke School.

Radio plays a part in both the Ocracoke and Mattamuskeet campuses.

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3 PM

Quick Change Artist BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

Rex Mann, the owner and operator of Mannkaniks, Inc., on ER Daniels Rd in Wanchese, knows the value of proper tire care. While changing tires is not the only work performed at his shop, Mann will tell you that a simple task like regularly checking the pressure of each tire on a vehicle can make a big difference in how long a tire will last. “Rotation and inflation are the two most important things to remember,” said Mann. “With every other oil change, the tires should be rotated and the pressure checked regularly.” That’s because improper tire pressures cause additional wear on the tread. The quicker they wear down, the more often they must be replaced. Since tires wear down differently in each of the different positions on a

vehicle, rotating tires around a vehicle helps prolong a tire’s life. Rotating them from front to rear and left to right ensure tires wear more evenly and last longer. Under-inflated tires also have additional rolling resistance, which means tires with lower pressures require more engine power to move a vehicle. That translates into lower miles per gallon and more frequent gas pump visits. In addition, severely under-inflated tires will produce excessive heat build-up that eventually leads to premature failure.  “This is an automotive light duty tire,” he explained during a recent tire change demonstration. “We do a lot of tire changes with a tire machine. The bead has to be broken on one side because it’s sealed tight, even with the air out of it.” After the bead is broken, Mann PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Although larger truck tires are done by hand, a tire changing machine like the one Rex Mann uses can help speed up the removal and replacement of tires on a wheel rim for automobiles and light duty trucks.

moved the tire into a different position on the tire machine, where a mechanical arm separated the tire from the rim as the two turned in unison on the machine. “It’s the same way going on,” Mann explained. “It has to be in the proper position to be able to stretch around the rim without damaging the tire; without destroying the integrity of it, so when we air it up it will still be perfectly round.” Once the new tire is on a rim, Mann takes a few minutes to balance them. Why balance? “Keeps the shake out of it,” he said. “Tires are not made perfect and it surprises some people to know the rims are not made perfect. A lot of people think that tires are what you’re balancing and you are, but you are also balancing the steel rim or the aluminum rim. Because if you spin a rim without a tire you would probably find that it is not balanced either.” It all helps make for a smooth true ride when you balance the tires.

Mann said he estimates that about 25 percent of the tire changes in his shop are large truck tires, with 75 percent from light duty vehicles. Tractor trailer tires, however, are done by hand. “There are some machines large enough, but not in this area to change a tractor trailer tire,” Mann explained. “So those are all done by hand.” When asked how long it takes, Mann said a car tire might take a half hour at the most. That is of course if everything goes smooth. That includes spin balancing on the spin balancer. For truck tires, he usually uses a liquid balance or some type of bead balance that is placed inside the tire. While large truck tires require larger tools, those changes are still generally 30 to 45 minutes for an experienced tire changer that knows what they are doing. “So rotation and inflation, that’s the most important thing,” said Mann. “And, of course, to have them balanced. Every 10,000 or 15,000 miles, check the balance and rotate.”


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Outlook 2019 25


26 Outlook 2019

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Water, Water Everywhere

4 PM

BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

There may not be a lot of visible action at the water treatment plant in Nags Head, but residents there can count on plant superintendent Nancy Carawan and her staff to watch out for them. “We do the job because we care about people,” said Carawan. As water plant superintendent, it’s Carawan’s job to buy chemicals, prepare budgets and complete the various reports required. It’s also her job to make sure the water that goes through those pipes is safe to drink.  It certainly isn’t for the social interaction. Sitting alone on the 4-5 p.m. shift, Carawan is surrounded by pipes, valves and an assortment of gauges and computer screens all designed to monitor the water Nags Head residents consume. Most of the action here is inside the pipes all around her. “Back in the old days, we had truck telemetry,” said Carawan. “You drove a truck to the tank to see how much water was in it. Now, computer monitoring helps ease the effort in chlorine monitoring.” Although the town buys its water from Dare County, Carawan and crew conduct regular tests to ensure it meets state and United States Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.  “In the morning, our tests include checking chlorine, pH, hardness, and iron,” said Carawan. “Some of those tests are to counter calls that the water is not right. Then there are bacteriological tests every day. And we test the water coming in from the county for iron, hardness, pH and chlorides. It wasn’t always that way. Carawan said before the Ash Wednesday storm, everybody on the Outer Banks had water wells. Because many of them were contaminated after the storm, the towns decided to centralize the water supply for residents. Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills each built identical side-by-side plants on the shared town line and water was

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Although Nags Head water plant superintendent Nancy Carawan has an assortment of gauges, switches, buttons and dials designed to help monitor the flow of water, most of the control is by a computer on the wall to her right.

pulled out of nearby Fresh Pond. Then, in the 1970s when the county sank several wells and took over water production, Kill Devil Hills shut down and gutted its plant. Nags Head also stopped pumping water, but elected to leave its equipment in place. “Then the beach grew faster than projected,” said Carawan. “Nags Head said Fresh Pond could be reactivated and pump between one and 1.5 million gallons a day. We came on line in May through November. Less need for it in the winter, but very helpful in the summer.” By 2007, the equipment was outdated and by 2009, it cost too much to produce water from Fresh Pond and the Nags Head plant was converted to process the water brought in from a Skyco well on Roanoke Island. “We test the water we pump out of here to make sure it is within state guidelines,” said Carawan. “We also take meter readings to see how much

water we use each day. So, you can say our water people are truly looking out for your health. We’re here 365 days, 8 a.m. to midnight to make sure it’s good water.” “Most people know to look for dirty water when we flush our lines,” Carawan continued. “But sometimes a break will occur or a contractor will open a line up without telling us and that will stir things up and create dirty water.” Carawan explained also that the only chemical added is chlorine, for disinfection. That doesn’t keep people from thinking it has something else added.  Carawan recalled a call from one homeowner who said her water tasted like paint thinner. An on-site check confirmed that it did. But it wasn’t from bad city water. Turns out her husband had poured out paint thinner close enough to the line that it leaked into the home water system.

Then there was another call for water that tasted like gas. In that case, it was discovered someone on the roadside filling a gas tank had it overflow and the excess gas seeped into the water system. “Gasoline and paint thinner will go right through a plastic line,” added Carawan. The lesson here is to not mess with gas around your water line. Carawan added that a lot of times, people need to remember to clean the water filters on their sink faucets.  “We always come out and take a look when there’s a complaint,” explained Carawan. “You can sometimes tell them on the phone, but it is best to go there. Polite, courteous and helpful customer service.” “Our job might not seem hard,” added Carawan. “But if we’re not conscientious and making sure the system is running right, people can get sick. And we take that part seriously.”


THE COASTLAND TIMES

5 PM BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

Outlook 2019 27

Helping With Final Goodbyes

Gallop estimates with interruptions it will be a few hours. The average adult takes about When the clock strikes 5 p.m., some peo- four hours. After meeting with the family to ple take that as a signal to close up shop and work out final details, cremation is usually go home. within three days. For Courtney N. Gallop, however, it’s just Working alone in a lab-like area at the back one of 24 other hours like it throughout a day. of the building, Gallop said “You never know As owner and operator of Gallop Funeral when the phone is going to ring. The phone Services, Inc. in Nags Head, Gallop and her lines are always open and we answer in perbusiness partner Jon Benjamin Andrews do son around the clock.” not always get to go home at the 5 p.m. bell.  How busy can it get? Gallop said they have After returning from an Outer Banks had as many as four calls within a 24-hour Hospital social function one recent week- period and as many as seven bodies in in the day afternoon, Gallop had not yet had time building at different stages of preparation.  to change clothes when a decedent arrived at “For a two-man shop, that’s hustling,” she her Nags Head chapel via a Virginia trans- added. “There have been days and weeks port service. when nothing happens though. I always Andrews had already departed Nags Head think my phone is broken, but those breaks for a previously scheduled cremation at their are getting shorter and shorter.” East Lake crematory, so that left just Gallop A quick glance at the control board for to receive the body. the month shows an assortment of tasks reA professional transport driver, who iden- quested for several different families includtified himself as DK, rolled the decedent into ing obituaries, limousine, flags, urn or casket, the chapel’s side door on a stretcher as Gallop death notice, death certificate filed, SS notichecked over the paperwork. fied, order flowers, print prayer cards, dig a PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO “Here I am after five checking paperwork grave, flag for veteran, file insurance papers Courtney N. Gallop adds water to the embalming machine. for an incoming transport,” said Gallop. “I and an assortment of other related tasks like have the valuables, I see a transit permit and embalming. there’s the hospital sheet.” Embalming, explained Gallop, is the proSatisfied the paperwork was correct, Gal- cess of replacing the body’s blood and other lop and the transport driver lifted the body fluids with specialized preservative chemicals and transferred it from the transport stretch- in order to help portray a more life-like physer to one of Gallop’s tables.  ical appearance. Gallop then stepped into her office and “Not everything applies to every case,” wrote out a check for the transport driver to explained Gallop. “Not everyone gets all of take back to the company office in Virginia. those. Sometimes they do. And sometimes After a brief minute or two of casual conver- it’s a ship-out where all we do is prep it. We sation, the driver commented that he had to even had a case where the body was donated pick up yet another body at a Virginia hospi- to science.” tal on the way back and headed out the door.  Taking a short break, Gallop calls Andrews “So, this is our life,” commented Gallop as at the East Lake crematory to ask him to take she gloved-up and put on a smock. “The fam- care of something at that location.  ily is coming in from Massachusetts, so she’s After the call, she explained that the cregot to be ready by tomorrow morning. By 8 matory process is quiet and does not create a a.m.” problem to operate off hours. Gallop explained what this case will most “A lot of people do not realize just how likely require: bathing, disinfection, hair high tech and automated this equipment is,” washing and blow drying, then Gallop will she said.  place her on clean sheets and provide some “Most people are closing up and heading facial posing and body positioning. home for the evening but for us it’s an around “We will probably dress her with some- the clock commitment,” said Gallop. “There GALLOP FUNERAL SERVICES PHOTO thing we have here,” explained Gallop. “With really isn’t any structure. It’s just Benji and me Jon Benjamin Andrews sets the codes for a cremation cycle at the Gallop Funeral Services some light cosmetics, she will be ready for the so we rest when we can and get through the crematory in East Lake. final family goodbye.” spurts as best we can. Coffee is our friend.”


28 Outlook 2019

THE COASTLAND TIMES

6 PM

Service With A Smile BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

As a gas station attendant, Sharon Bryant considers making people smile to be one of the best parts of her job. “It makes them smile when I’ve already got their favorite cigarettes or whatever they came for ready for them before they get to the window,” explains Bryant.  Bryant is one of less than a half dozen cashiers who work at the self-service Quality Plus gas station on Caratoke Highway in Coinjock.  According to Beth Macey, secretary to the president at the company’s home office in Winston-Salem, the Coinjock station is one of 57 company stations located all across North Carolina, southern Virginia and into east Tennessee; from Nags Head to Kingsport, Tenn. The 90-year-old company also owns several GoGas Stations in

southeast North Carolina. For Bryant, each evening shift is pretty much the same. First, the day shift passes along information about any equipment problems or other station issues, then Bryant counts the money in the cash drawer, next she counts cigarettes, takes out the trash, changes out the water buckets when they get dirty and cleans the bathrooms. Even though it’s a one-person shift, it’s not a lonely job because people pass through all the time. When not dealing with customers, there are plenty of things to clean and, if needed, help is not far away because managers live in an on-site apartment at most stations. “Mostly, we sell cigarettes and other tobacco products,” Bryant explains. “We also sell lots of snacks and energy drinks. And, of course, gas.” When a customer drives up, Bryant

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Sharon Bryant at the self-service Quality Plus gas station on Caratoke Highway in Coinjock.

is quick to engage them in conversation. “Howdy there,” she calls out. “Doing all right?” When the transaction is complete, she sends them off with a quick, “Thank you, have a good night.” Most of her customers live nearby, she adds, locals who stop by for cigarettes or other items along with their gas. Sometimes it’s other things like over-the-counter medicines when it’s not convenient or they are not able to make the 10-minute drive to Grandy. “He stops by every day to get gas,” she says referring to one departing customer. “He works on a crab boat. Lives in Hertford, actually” Keeping track of her regulars, Bryant is able to anticipate their purchases. “Most of my customers are locals who pass through at least once a week,” she explains. “I’ve got some customers that I see every day. During the winter, probably about 75 percent of my customers I will see at least once a week when I work. In the summer, it gets a little diluted with all the tourist traffic.” Knowing what they want and having it ready brings a smile to their face. “Sometimes people come through and they just need somebody to talk to,” she adds. “They may not have talked with anybody all day.” So far today, there have been 330 fuel customers, 74 customers who

bought one pack of cigarettes, 12 customers who bought cartons, 14 customers bought a total of 22 beverages and another dozen bought candy, oil and other snacks or ice. Of course, some of those customers were counted twice because they bought more than one thing. The biggest drawback is the constant standing. There is a lot of standing. “And,” she adds, “when it’s pouring rain or cold, you still have to go out and fix a pump or put kitty litter on a gas spill.” Tonight’s shift should be fairly simple, the only thing needed is to empty the trash cans. So what can go wrong? Cars entering from the wrong direction can cause accidents.  And US 158 traffic was blocked due to a fire on the property right behind the station back in May of last year. She was still able to do business when a number of people walked up from the bridge to get snacks while waiting for the road to clear. The biggest event, however, was probably an October 2017 arrest at the station. “There were about 17 cop cars in the parking lot to arrest a fugitive,” Bryant explains. “They blocked both my exits. Traffic was blocked for a while. I didn’t know they had that many cop cars. It was not the time to go out there.”


THE COASTLAND TIMES

Outlook 2019 29


30 Outlook 2019

THE COASTLAND TIMES

Cooking Together

7 PM

BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Chef Donny King delivers a plate of North Carolina shrimp sautéed with fennel seeds, creamy risotto, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and pecorino tuille at the Ocean Boulevard Bistro and Martini Bar.

Having the right cooks are a key to the success of any restaurant and it appears Donny King has assembled a winning combination at his Ocean Boulevard Bistro and Martini Bar in Kitty Hawk. It’s 7 p.m. and about a dozen patrons are scattered around the dining room in small groups of various sizes. A unique setting for a restaurant, the building was constructed on the Beach Road in 1948 and operated as the Virginia Dare Hardware. There are still a number of people around that can remember the original owners, Elizabeth Smith, who served as mayor of Kitty Hawk, and her husband “Little Smitty.”  When it was converted to an upscale eatery in 1995, Ocean Boulevard opened with the original 18” thick steel beams brought in from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard still supporting the dining room ceiling. That means no walls or columns blocking any throughways.  Preparing meals in the kitchen are King, Dylan Luks and Carter Howe. Michael Thomas is also a cook, but is not working today. King has been cooking since 1989 and bought Ocean Boulevard in 2002. But even though he is the owner and general manager, he doesn’t let that get in the way. “Dylan is our sous chef and he’s calling the shots tonight,” explained King. “We have a new menu and he’s more familiar with it. Jason Taylor is doing salads and desserts and serving as our expediter.” King went on to say the restaurant makes a hard change to its menu each season, with minor changes taking place later. That doesn’t mean King is just watching. He’s working with Howe, the most recent addition to the team, bringing him up to speed on how Ocean Boulevard operates. King said Howe has worked at both high volume and more refined places, which makes for a good experience mix. “Good cooks have each other’s backs,” added King. Good cooks also work well together. A few more people have arrived and a large birthday party is underway at one table. That means several food orders all at the same time. The pace in the kitchen quickens. In a buzz of activity, chefs call out to each other when passing in tight spaces or if they need help with something. Luks even asks Taylor to get an item out of the refrigerator.  Before long, they are calling out to each other to confirm that different parts of the order are being prepared. As Taylor holds a plate of food about to be carried to one of the tables, Luks hand sprinkles garnish over it before sending it out to the dining room. On another order, Luks instructs Taylor on how to prepare a plate. Luks then places a vegetable on the plate and Howe adds the meat. Then King drops on more vegetables and the plate is ready for delivery.  After a few minutes, there is a break in the action. The slower pace allows a glance out into the dining area to see how many people they have and King gives advice to Howe on different cooking techniques for when it’s slow as opposed to when it’s busy. Although one disadvantage to running a restaurant is that everybody gets hungry at the same time, that doesn’t seem to be a problem at the Ocean Boulevard Bistro. King and crew appear to have everything under control.


THE COASTLAND TIMES

Ocean Boulevard Bistro and Martini Bar chefs include, from left, Donny King, Carter Howe and Dylan Luks and handling salads, desserts and expediting is Jason Taylor.

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Carter Howe is a member of the Ocean Boulevard Bistro and Martini Bar kitchen crew.

Outlook 2019 31

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Leading the Ocean Boulevard Bistro and Martini Bar kitchen crew is sous chef Dylan Luks.


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Great Music

8 PM

MARY HELEN GOODLOE-MURPHY PHOTO

Radio Hatteras 8 p.m. show hosts are, from left, Carlos Babilonia, Linda Browning, Shelley Tidd, Carol Busbey, Hugh George, Liz Fox and Bill Smith. Not pictured: Tom Garrison and Steve Davis. BY MARY HELEN GOODLOE-MURPHY

These folks are serious about music and they share that favorite music with the world. Every night at 8 p.m., Radio Hatteras broadcasts and streams special music programs. Those special music programs are put together by volunteers at Radio Hatteras, a non-profit community radio station. The station is now in its fifth year of broadcasting from its station in Buxton. For every one of those years, special programs in various music genres have been broadcast. Now the 8 p.m. time slot is filled and some volunteers are putting together shows for the 9 p.m. hour. Show genres reflect the station’s commitment to providing an eclectic mix of music.

Here is the 8 p.m. lineup for listening enjoyment: On Mondays, “Electric Beach Party” features surf and rock instrumentals. The host is Carol Busbey, who reaches out across the world to feature new bands. The music spans from the “birth of surf music” in 1961 to the present. Busbey receives new releases from around the world. On Tuesdays, “Grand Ole Osprey” offers the best in bluegrass. Host Tom Garrison actually starts the show with an osprey’s call and then brings in traditional bluegrass tunes along with artist insights. Wednesdays feature “The Folk Way,” an hour of folk, folk rock, Americana and new folk. Linda Browning programs the first Wednesday of a month and Hugh George, third Wednesday. On the second and fourth Wednesdays, “Babylon By Bus” brings reggae music from traditional and new artists

to Radio Hatteras. Carlos Babilonia programs the upbeat tunes. For Thursday, “Celtic Old World New Age” delivers the Celtic music tradition. Liz B. Fox is the originator of this show. She receives Celtic music from around the world to consider for her playlist. On Friday, roll up the rug and get ready to dance. The Beach Music Hour with host Bill Smith features dancing music highlighted by beach and shag club DJs. Ah, the weekend! On Saturday night, “Excellent Musical Adventures” brings hosts Carol Busbey and Shelley Tidd to the microphone. The show features musical themes, like tunes about trains or colors or “he said” with male voices followed by “she said,” with female voices or slide guitars. Listen to the adventures the first and third Saturday nights. SEE MUSIC, PAGE 33


THE COASTLAND TIMES

MUSIC, FROM PAGE 32

“Hatteras Blues” can be heard on the second Saturday night. Blues expert Steve Davis searches out live recordings for broadcast. On Sunday, listen to “Sunday Night Specials.” Alternating show hosts program an hour of favorite music. As the 8 p.m. slots filled up, the station added shows at the 9 p.m. hour. At 9 p.m., on the second and fourth Saturdays, listen to Josh Nonnenmocher’s “Mahi Mahi Mix Tape” featuring music from b-sides and new discoveries. On the third Saturday at 9 p.m., it’s “Mary Ellen’s Dance Party,” programmed for dancing by Mary Ellen Riddle. On Friday nights at 9 p.m., it’s time for “Friday Night in Nashville,” the station’s old country music hour. Bill Smith develops the playlist. And the music folks don’t leave out Jazz. On Sunday and Monday nights at 11 p.m., an “Hour of Jazz” is broadcast. And, the station’s only morning show is Saturday’s “Breakfast with the Beatles and Shelley.” That’s Shelley Tidd, who programs Beatles performances and covers. The program airs at 9 a.m., each Saturday. All of these shows are rebroadcast at midnight for 8 p.m. shows, an hour later for 9 p.m. shows. Catch the Beatles again on Sunday at 9 a.m. Radio Hatteras broadcasts and streams these shows and a handpicked music mix 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because of dedicated volunteers who know a lot about music. Additional volunteers work in support roles. The station operates on donations from listeners and from underwriters. To contribute, mail a check to Radio Hatteras, P. O. Box 339, Frisco, NC 27936 or contribute through PayPal on the station’s website, radiohatteras.org. For businesses wishing to underwrite the station, email info@radiohatteras.org.

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Outlook 2019 33


34 Outlook 2019

THE COASTLAND TIMES

Some Fitness Fanatics Prefer Night

Chance DeCharme flashes a pose just like Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose likeness was recently painted on an inside wall of the Outer Banks Sports Club. BY DARYL LAW

From sunup to sundown and beyond, fitness buffs can workout at all hours of the day and night in any one of the many fitness clubs dotting the Outer Banks. While a lot of people seek early morning or lunch time sessions, there are others who prefer the night. Just after 9 p.m. on a Monday night, a dozen dedicated fitness enthusiasts – including several “ripped” athletes – were working on their fitness levels at Outer Banks Sports Club on the bypass in Nags Head. Asked why they prefer hitting the weights in the evenings, these “gym rats” came out with some interesting answers. One of them was Sasha Cimbaljevic of Manteo, who works security and trains to become a successful mixed martial arts – or MMA – fighter. “It’s the best time to train,” he said. “I’m finished with all of the stuff I

have to finish in the day.” Cimbaljevic added he sometimes runs in the morning and saves weightlifting for his nighttime workout. Upstairs in this large, freshly painted and well-outfitted gym, he headed over to a semi-private alcove where he was quick to put on a demonstration at the punching bag – flurries of lefts and rights with kicks mixed in: “Pop, pop, pow!” Back out in the mezzanine area of this former movie theater turned a state-of-the-art fitness center complete with saunas and a protein shake bar, vacationer Judy Kirschner of Middletown, N.J. was hard at work on a cardio machine. She too said nighttime workouts rule. “I find it works best for my schedule,” she said. “I try to do it at night instead of the day. “It helps me get it in,” Kirschner continued. “I prefer nights – during the day, I am working.”

Back downstairs in the main area of the sports club, Nicholas Knieper of Pamlico Painting was just finishing up a lengthy workout. Owner Manny Golasa said Knieper did a wonderful job painting inside the building. Knieper said he likes to come by after work to get in a good session of two hours or longer. “It’s just wide-open and plenty of room,” he said. “I don’t have to wait. Manny’s got three or four of everything. There’s like 28 cardios upstairs – it’s just a good environment and the only place on the beach with protein shakes!” He likes the other benefits of membership in the club, including free sweat towel service as well as clean, hot showers. Another buff fitness buff, Chance DeCharme, a bartender at JK’s in Kill Devil Hills, was heading out after getting in a workout. He admitted he’s typically a morning guy, but sometimes he comes in during the evening.

9 PM

DARYL LAW PHOTO

From the looks of his muscles, he’s dedicated his soul to being “swole.” “It’s got a good atmosphere,” the former First Flight baseball pitcher said. “Manny puts on a good atmosphere. “Normally, I do days but I was restless, so I came back for number two,” DeCharme added. Keil Twiford was busy behind the bar making protein shakes, so he hears from plenty of the gym members on why they come in the evenings. “A lot of people work day jobs so they just fit it in,” he said. “The evening crowd is good, people get to joking around, it’s just less crowded even with twenty to thirty people.” Golasa said they pride themselves on keeping the club clean and it shows. Plus, there was upbeat music playing and the space was well-lit, warm and vibrant – a welcome contrast to outside where it was dark, cold and blowing.


THE COASTLAND TIMES

DARYL LAW PHOTO

Vacationer Judy Kirschner of Middletown, N.J. gets her heart rate up while revving up a cardio machine.

Outlook 2019 35

DARYL LAW PHOTO

Sasha Cimbaljevic of Manteo works up a sweat while honing his skills at Outer Banks Sports Club in Nags Head.


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THE COASTLAND TIMES

10 PM

Bowling Action BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

Any list of family fun locations has to include the OBX Bowling Center on West Satterfield Landing in Nags Head. A peek inside on a recent Friday night revealed seven of the 24 lanes were in use, with 24 people rolling bowling balls down the lanes. 10 p.m. Tyler Hoggard and Barrett Smithson are behind the front counter and greet customers entering the bowling center. Off to one side is an arcade area for adults with another one more suited for children on the other side of the building. 10:02 p.m. Without warning, all the regular overhead lights go out and for a brief instant the building is almost completely dark. Almost immediately, classic rock and roll music echoes through the bowling alley as several black lights come on and disco lights start flashing around the room. A couple of cheers of approval are heard as the weekend’s Rock-n-Bowl – held each Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m. – begins. 10:05 p.m. Although from the counter it looks much too dark to bowl, Smithson explains that the lanes are painted to glow under the black light. He also says that the music is rotated. Tonight, the music selections are an hour of classic rock and roll, an hour of hip hop and then an hour of dance music. 10:10 p.m. Two new bowlers arrive and Hoggard retrieves bowling shoes for them from the 150 to 160 pairs to pick from. Smithson explains that a good portion of their time is spent watching what goes on and waiting on customers or a ball-call. Lanes are constructed in pairs and after each play, balls return through tubes that run between them. Ball-calls are when two balls merge into the return tube at the same time

and get stuck. In those cases, somebody has to physically retrieve them. 10:12 p.m. Smithson explains that there is almost a musical chairs system to assigning lanes. “It depends on how big the group is,” he says. “Then we try to keep families with small children away from college age groups and keep them spaced out to have room to work with.” 10:15 p.m. Six new bowlers walk in and trade street shoes for bowling shoes at the counter and pay their fee. A bowler on lane 13 rolls a strike and does a little victory dance. 10:20 p.m. Hoggard is at the counter with a couple about to leave. He retrieves their shoes as they turn in their bowling shoes. The bowler on lane 13 rolls another strike and does the mandatory victory dance. 10:25 p.m. Hoggard steps into the kitchen area to prepare a small food order. A couple of children that were in one of the arcade areas are no longer there. A bowler on lane 11 gets a strike and displays a vigorous fist pump. 10:30 p.m. Bowlers on lanes 7, 9 and 11 all roll gutter balls simultaneously. 10:35 p.m. Two new bowlers arrive. Smithson announced that there were no ballcalls so far. “That’s a nice thing about this job, he adds. “The job is really unpredictable, always something new and no two days are alike.” 10:40 p.m. Six more people arrive. After trading shoes at the counter, they are off to bowl. 10:43 p.m. A bowler alerts Smithson that one

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Barrett Smithson watches the action at the OBX Bowling Center during a Friday night Rock-n-Bowl special.

Tyler Hoggard prepares a food order at the OBX Bowling Center.

of the sweeper arms that clears pins off the lane is stuck. Smithson trots along the top of the ball return casing and slides under the pinsetter machine and out of sight as if sliding into home plate. Hoggard handles the transaction for one couple as they depart. 10:45 p.m. Five more bowlers arrive as Smithson returned from the sweeper repair. A bowler on lane 13 rolls a gutter ball. Hoggard exits the kitchen area and delivers a tray to one of the tables overlooking the bowling area. Returning to the counter, he takes a drink order from a young lady standing there.

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

10:52 p.m. Bowlers on lanes 11 and 13 roll strike about the same time. The lane 13 bowler comes up to the counter for a drink order. While Hoggard gets her drink, she slides her credit card info the reader to pay. 10:55 p.m. One couple has moved from one of the food tables over to the arcade area to play a game of air hockey. Another couple walks up to the counter to turn in their bowling shoes and leave.

10:47 p.m. By now, it looks like lanes 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15 and 17 are in use. Two more bowlers arrive, but one of them has trouble getting the shoes to fit and Hoggard trades them for a different pair. A bowler on land 15 rolls a spare. Walking back to his seat, he high-fives with other nearby bowlers.

10:58 p.m. A bowler on lane 13 rolls a gutter ball. As the ball makes its way back up the return tube, a large overhead screen displays an example roll on how to save the square with a spare. The first air hockey couple has finished their game and moved to another arcade game. A second couple finishes their air hockey game and share a hug and kiss after the game is over.

10:50 p.m. A bowler on lane 11 rolls a strike. Lanes 19 and 21 are now in use, but the first ball rolled down lane 19 drops into the gutter about half way down the lane.

11 p.m. The action continues. More people arrive at the counter for food orders and another small group of bowlers enter the bowling alley and start taking their shoes off at the front counter.


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Outlook 2019 37

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38 Outlook 2019

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A Quieter Type Of Oceanfront Nightlife

11 PM

BY PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR.

Looking out across the front desk of the Comfort Inn on Old Oregon Inlet Road, at 11 p.m. Lynn Ward often has the lobby of the Nags Head hotel all to herself. Like most area businesses, the pace picks up as the traditional tourist season approaches with school groups, weddings and other visitors, but during the first hour of her late night shift, most of the action here is pretty sedate this time of year. “March through May there are a lot of school groups here on field trips,” said Ward. “From fourth grade through high school. And a lot of weddings in June and during the fall.” The hotel’s location, near Whalebone Junction where US 158, NC12 and US 64 meet, might help its popularity, even during the winter months. “We have a lot of construction workers this time of year,” Ward pointed out. “We also get people up from Hatteras and Ocracoke for hospital appointments. They spend the night here to avoid an early morning drive. All totaled, we often run about 50 guests while others may have only 10 or 20.” Running a computer printout helps confirm that this night there are 58 guests in the 105 room hotel. The printout, called an emergency report, is among her first duties for the night. It provides a printed record of everyone in the hotel. Wards said in the event of an emergency, it helps public safety officials determine which rooms are empty and account for all guests. “When people check in, it’s important to get all the proper contact information in the event of an emergency,” she explained. “It’s important to know all the people in any room because if you don’t list any kids or a spouse and we have a fire, then firefighters might not know to look for them.” While much of the night auditor work used to be done by hand, Ward said it is now all by computer. “Hit a button and let it go,” she said with a smile.

PHILIP S. RUCKLE JR. PHOTO

Lynn Ward runs an emergency report to print out a record of everyone in the hotel. In the event of an emergency it will help public safety officials determine which rooms are empty and account for all guests.

After completion of her emergency report, Ward follows a checklist of other reports and activities. “Most of what I do can be done in the first hour,” explained Ward. “I’m not one to stand around and do nothing, but there isn’t much to do until the end of my shift.” She’s offered to take on other special projects during any free time. Well into her shift, one lone guest steps off the elevator into the lobby and asks where to find the soda and candy machines. Ward politely directs them to floors three, five and seven. “I’ve found that if you are nice to the guests, they are nice to you,” she explained, adding that during her three years at the inn, she has found that some guests respond to even the smallest gestures of kindness. Like when a couple checked in and she later discovered they had recently lost a baby. A sympathy card from Ward made their day. They also returned for another trip for their anni-

versary. Then there was another couple that asked her to complete a small task for them. On the way out, they gave her a tip. After they left, she discovered it was a $100 bill. “I called my boss and asked what to do,” exclaimed Ward. “She said ‘what do you mean what do you do? You keep it.’” Ward went on to say that while gestures like that are nice, mostly she just tries to make her guests’ day a little brighter. That’s not to say every encounter has been pleasant. Near the end of one shift while distributing guest folios with their charges for people checking out that day, she ran into a totally naked guest in the stairwell who claimed to be locked out of his room. “After that, I considered bringing a cow bell when I make my rounds,” she added with a chuckle. “I think he was as embarrassed as I was, but I cannot fathom why you would be locked out-

side your room naked.” Ward said she never did determine where he came from, why he was there or how he got back into his room. Still, with a wealth of experience gained from a variety of previous jobs such as at a hospital, fast food restaurant, grocery stores, medical transcription and as a bookkeeper, Ward considers this one to be the right job for her. “This is the perfect job for a single person like me,” commented Ward. “With no kids at home, I don’t have to work around somebody else.” Of course, starting her work one day at 11 p.m. and ending it the next at 7 a.m. does have a few drawbacks. “Sometimes I have to think about what day it is,” said Ward. “Or my son Dale will tell me it’s not Tuesday, it’s Wednesday. It’s easy to lose track of your days.” “I’ve gotten to where I really like the night shift,” added Ward. “But the best part of the job is dealing with the customers.”


THE COASTLAND TIMES

Outlook 2019 39


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Outlook Edition 2019, The Coastland Times  

Outlook is an annual special section we’ll be publishing and this is our inaugural issue. What makes this different from our other special s...

Outlook Edition 2019, The Coastland Times  

Outlook is an annual special section we’ll be publishing and this is our inaugural issue. What makes this different from our other special s...

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