North Carolina Beach Buggy Association members gather for annual meeting

Published 5:27 pm Thursday, September 16, 2021

On a beautiful, sunshine-filled Saturday afternoon, members of the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association gathered outside at the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Building.

Members learned about scholarship awards, fishing contest winners, a new NCBBA Youth Tournament and heard from guest speaker Dave Hallac, superintendent of National Parks of Eastern North Carolina.

Hallac reported that last year was busy, the busiest in 17 years. “This year has been busier.” The first seven months of 2021 were the busiest ever in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

“The level of visiting is a challenge to manage,” said Hallac.

This season, reported Hallac, the seashore has 17 law enforcement rangers, who have handled seven fatalities, made 42 arrests, issued 84 violations for beach fires and written 78 tickets for speeding on the beach.

To handle increased visitation, Hallac redeployed resources. Beach driving permits are now sold online only. The 15 positions used to staff the permit counters at the seashore’s visitor centers have been shifted to other duties, like law enforcement and as ramp ambassadors, a new position. The ambassadors have made 27,000 contacts reminding beach drivers to air down and checking permits.

Last year, Hallac reported 47,000 beach driving permits sold yielding revenue between $3.5 and $4 million. Those funds are used to maintain beach access ramps, repairing equipment for working on ramps, signage, parking areas and staff positions.

In 2022, Hallac said the seashore will review the Off-Road Vehicle Management Plan.

Hallac updated beach buggy members on projects underway or finished:

– Oregon Inlet Kayak Launch on the east side of the Oregon Inlet Marina opened Aug. 23. Financial help came from Outer Banks Forever, the philanthropic organization supporting all three national parks in Dare County.

– The seashore and Outer Banks Forever are working on a multi-use path that will run from NC 12 and the existing Buxton Back Road pathway to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

– Major renovation is underway for the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Funding for the $18 million project was provided by Congress, said Hallac.

– The seashore is trying to figure out how to preserve the Ocracoke Lighthouse, which sits just two feet above sea level.

– Hallac is working with Bob Woodard, chair of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, on the NC 12 Task Force, which is developing long-range plans to address the seven hot spots on Hatteras and Ocracoke Island.

– Bonner Bridge Pier, which the national seashore will manage as a 1,000-foot fishing pier, may be ready by early fall. Repairs are needed in the parking lot; a space needs to be set aside for dumpsters and portable toilets; and signs need installing.

Regarding campgrounds, Hallac said implementing a campground modernization plan would lengthen and widen camping sites to accommodate current recreational vehicles and would add water and electricity to sites at all four campgrounds. He will look for funding from the Great American Outdoors Act.

At the beginning of the meeting, association president Bill Smith offered memorials for two members who died this past year: Jim Keene, who served as president for 10 years with passion and energy, and Pete East, who always participated in Operation Beach Respect and was the association’s official photographer.

North Carolina Beach Buggy Association increased its scholarship amount this year to $3,400, distributed over four years. Association secretary Pam Smith announced the five graduates receiving the scholarships: Noah Goetch from Manteo High School, attending William Pace University; Cullen McNinch from First Flight High School, attending UNC Charlotte; Sara Williams from Cape Hatteras Secondary, attending East Carolina University; Christian Trejo from Ocracoke School, also attending East Carolina University; and Dylan Esham receiving the member’s scholarship and attending North Carolina State University.

Board member Chris Worthington had a great time announcing winners of various fishing awards:

– Angler of the Year: Randy Overton (2020) and Cheryl Bundy (2021).

– Russ Privett Tournament, where anglers can fish all day Friday and part of the day Saturday before the annual meeting. For the largest red drum, first place went to Randy Overton and second to Dennis Newton; for largest bluefish, first went to Randy Overton and second to Cheryl Bundy; for the largest sea mullet, first place was Linda Newton and second was Cheryl Bundy.

– This year was the first for the new NCBBA Youth Tournament, which was endowed in memory of John P. Overholtzer, NCBBA Life member 7636. Harry Nash, past president made the presentation to Blake Jennings and Brayden Jennings.

Re-elected to the Board of Directors were Carol Mowers, Tom Brueckner and Bill King.

As is the association’s custom, $500 was donated to Chicamacomico Banks Water Rescue.

This North Carolina Beach Buggy Association annual meeting was held Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. Next year’s annual meeting will be the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend.

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