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Duck Town Council meets new employees

The Duck Town Council on September 1 meeting included the announcement of a fire department promotion, introduction of four new employees and funding approval for a Town Park educational sign.

Leading off a series of introductions, Duck town manager Drew Havens introduced Jessica Barnes, who started work earlier in the day, as the new finance and human resources administrator. Havens said Barnes is originally from Virginia Beach and moved to Camden in 2015. She comes to Duck with several years of finance and administrative office experience and is currently working on a business administration degree at College of The Albemarle.

Next up was Fire Chief Donna Black who informed council that the department recently promoted one firefighter and has hired three more.

Moving up to the position of fire captain, Black said Jake Dempsey started with Duck as a part time firefighter in 2015 and later transitioned to a full time position.

Black then introduced Dave Sybert, Erin Thomas and Greg Fiala as the town’s newest full time firefighters.

According to Black, Sybert has a master’s degree geological sciences and has previously worked at Coastal Studies Institute, Thomas is from York County, Va. with both EMS and firefighting experience and Fiala is a former Dare County employee with heavy equipment experience who also currently volunteers with Roanoke Island Volunteer Fire Department.

Among the regular business items for the night, council spent a few minutes reviewing and ratifying a previous vote to modify parking requirements at the Soundside Shoppes at 1180 Duck Road.

Earlier this year, Golden Sand Holdings, LLC requested a waiver from a requirement that one additional parking space be added to the existing 33 shopping center parking spaces in order to established a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor above a retail shop. When a written comment came in within an allowed 24-hour comment period, another public hearing was required to be scheduled.

Since then any concerns over the waiver have been resolved and, with no additional sworn testimony presented, council voted to ratify its previous decision granting the special exception modification.

Also given unanimous approval was an update to emergency proclamation standards. According to town staff, the changes for emergency proclamation standards do not substantially alter any intent of existing guidelines nor the authority of the mayor and Town of Duck to enact emergency proclamations when needed. They simply bring town code into compliance with recent changes to North Carolina law.

Other routine votes included approval of 2022 beach renourishment project financing, approval of a resolution authorizing submission of a Community Conservation Assistance Program Grant for the Town of Duck Living Shoreline Project, approving a consent agenda with July 7 meeting minutes, a $24,500 budget amendment to cover a traffic congestion data collection contract with VHB and a budget amendment transferring $335,751.51 expenditures that were contracted but not completed in order to close out the FY 2021 accounting books.

Council also voted to provide some funds for a rain garden stormwater wetland interpretive sign.

Leading up to the rain garden vote, Braden Heard with Boy Scout Troop 165 explained that as part of an Eagle Scout project, he intends to work with the Town of Duck and Dare County Soil and Water Conservation District to design and install educational signage at the rain garden/stormwater wetland in the Town Park.

During a short presentation, Heard said there is some money available from the Soil and Water Conservation District for the estimated $1,200 project. Following the presentation, council approved a motion to help with additional funds to help with the project.

Other business for the evening, it was announced that Duck recently received a North Carolina Coastal Federation Pelican Award and an improved National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating.

In making the Pelican Award announcement, senior planner Sandy Cross and director of marketing and special events Christian Legner explained that the awards program was initiated in 2003 to recognize people and organizations that have shown exemplary coastal stewardship.

Cross went on to say the Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management practices and in spite of having a reduced hazard area Duck scored well. Along with an improved rating are NFIP discounts awarded on homeowner flood insurance rates.

Earlier in the evening, during public comments, Legner read a letter into the record relating dissatisfaction with current trash collection schedules. According to Legner, the letter she read was typical of several others sent in and that 29 names were being attached to the letter. Several property owners felt there has been a reduction in the quality of service and the new collection schedule creates additional traffic issues.

A discussion on trash collection is planned for the October meeting.

Upon completion of business, council adjourned until the October 6 meeting.

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