April 27, 2008

Encore Magazine: Review of the Blackhorn Bar & Kitchen

Hats off to Blackhorn for receiving another excellent review!


Inside, the place reaches for a “Cheers”—“where everybody knows your name”—ambiance and, mostly, it succeeds...Overall, it was a very satisfying meal—great food, enjoyed leisurely, with the kind of contentment that made us forget the car was sitting ‘round the block in a parking space where a quarter only bought 15 minutes.

(PS. If you come across a review of any other Pleasure Island restaurant and would like me to post it, please let me know.)

Click Here For Carolina Beach Today Restaurant Reviews

April 25, 2008

What is that bird?

Need help identifying a certain shore bird? Here is a great website with numerous pictures of water birds that you may come across while visiting the Eastern Carolina shoreline.

And they also have a section, Backyard Birds, that cover many Carolina land birds.

And speaking of birds, at times they need our help due to injuries or sickness. The Sea Biscuit Wildlife Shelter, based in Oak Island, is a wonderful group that continues to work tirelessly helping injured and sick birds throughout Southeastern Carolina.

From their website:
2007 was busier than expected. 153 birds were treated and 59 of those were from Oak Island. There were 55 different species admitted including 11 pelicans, 19 gulls, 9 loons, 8 gannets, plus raptors and waterbirds of every description. Most came to the Shelter because of natural causes such as emaciation during migration and injuries caused by predators. But there were also a lot of fishing entanglements and collisions with vehicles.
Various forms of donations are always most welcomed.

April 24, 2008

Sunset on the Lower Cape Fear River

Yesterday, I rode my bike over to the Carolina Beach State Park with hopes of catching some nice sunset photos by the boat ramp area. The storms from earlier in the day had moved on and the clouds appeared to be setting up for a very scenic sunset. Unfortunately for me, as the sun approached the horizon, it found a large cloud deck to tuck under...and the show was over. But it was still very enjoyable as the birds were active and the air was refreshingly cool.

Right now is a great time to visit the park. The weather is still comfortable and the bugs are not yet in full glory. It is a wonderful place to go for a scenic jog or to take a leisurely stroll on one of the many trails. However, I must warn that if you decide to stray away from the beaten path, conduct a
tick check when you leave. The little buggers always seem to be lurking in the more densely wooded areas and will find you if you venture too deep into their home turf.

Visit the
park website and get a trail map or read about the history and landmarks in the area. In addition, you can find information on the indigenous venus fly trap, boating/camping facilities and other available activities. And FYI, the website can be just a tad confusing to navigate, the links for the park are located to the left of the park description.

As I rounded the corner past the marina, my hopes were high

Next to the boat launch, I waited

At this point, things looked on target for a spectacular sunset

Minutes later, the sun showed me it had different plans.
Maybe next time...

April 23, 2008

Next on the Demo List...

The owners, 600 Miles South LLC, of these long since vacated apartment buildings located at 217 Carolina Beach Ave N have just applied for a permit to finally raze these longstanding eyesores. They were originally going to allow the fire department to use the structures as part of firefighting training but decided against it when there were liability fears due to possible flying embers. So for now, it appears that the buildings will be with us just a few more weeks as they await approval for the demo permit. I'm just pleased that they should be gone prior to Memorial Day.

And considering that this property borders the marina and the soon to be built Hilton Garden Inn, one can assume that it will not remain a vacant lot for very long.

April 22, 2008

Enough with the Butts

One of my many pet peeves is seeing cigarette butts littering our beautiful beaches (it seems to be a prevalent problem with most beaches). There is absolutely no excuse for it. They are unsightly and are harmful to both sea life and water birds. Not to mention, it is always a bummer if a child has to pick out cigarette butts as he/she builds their dream sandcastle. So please, keep track of your butts and when you leave the beach, please have your butts leave with you.

The Brits seem to have the right idea:

Campaign to rid North Cornwall's beaches of cigarette butts

200 million cigarette butts are discarded each day in the UK and butts form almost ten percent of litter found on beaches. North Cornwall District Council is launching a campaign today to persuade smokers to use butt bins rather than leaving their butts in the sand.

North Cornwall District Council Beach Ranger, Jolyon Sharp explains:

"Cigarette butts contain up to 4,000 chemicals and cigarette filters can take up to 12 years to degrade.

"Unless we take action, there is a risk that our beaches will become giant ashtrays. Smokers can easily prevent this environmental pollution by stubbing out their cigarettes in butt bins. We will be giving out seventy free butt bins a week at certain beaches throughout the summer. Butt bins will also be available to buy at beach side shops."

Beach rangers and beach wardens have also set up butt collection points on beaches where smokers can empty their butt bins. They will also be handing out information leaflets and talking to smokers to tell them about the hazards of leaving their butts on the beach.

The butt bin campaign will be run on a trial basis at Polzeath and Summerleaze beaches this summer.

Richard Hardy, Surfers Against Sewage Campaigns Director says: "This is a great step forward in eradicating harmful beach litter. The local beaches will be all the better for it. SAS have provided butt bins to beachgoers for the past 5 years and we're delighted to see a local authority now providing these as part of their day to day beach clean operations. We believe NCDC is the first local authority in the country to actively promote the 'No Butts On The Beach' campaign message which gets a big thumbs up from the SAS crew!"

Amanda Booth, Executive Director of ENCAMS said: "Cigarette ends are the most prevalent type of litter found on all types of land, with beaches being no exception. ENCAMS research with the public reveals that people don't regard discarding their cigarette ends as littering so any campaign that can help change this behaviour is most welcome. We commend this excellent campaign on North Cornwall beaches, which will help maintain a good local environment for tourists and locals alike."

Andrea Crump, Litter Projects Coordinator for the Marine Conservation Society said "Cigarette litter is a large problem worldwide, and cigarette butts have been found in the stomachs of whales, turtles and bids. campaigns such as this can help to make a real difference to our environment, and MCS welcomes this initiative wholeheartedly".

Cllr Linda Spear is Chair of NCDC's Community Services Committee which is responsible for beach cleaning:

"We are very proud of our beautiful beaches in North Cornwall which we think are the best in the country. I urge smokers to use the butt bins. By taking just a little care, they can help us to make a real impact on litter and pollution on our beaches."



April 17, 2008

NC Coastal Boating Maps

If you are interested in NC boating, get your free Coastal Boating Guide from the NC Department of Transportation. If you prefer, you can also download a digital copy.

Order Link
Download PDF Link

April 15, 2008

May 3rd Boardwalk Grand Rededication Schedule

09:30 am: Parade Participants begin to line up
11:00 am: Parade Starts
12:30 am: Ribbon Cutting and Unveiling Ceremony at the Gazebo; Rededication of Boardwalk by Dan Wilcox & Parade Marshall
1:30 pm - 6:00 pm: Various Activities including
->Hula/Ukulele Performances
->CBES Choir
->Motorcycle Performance
->Puppet Show
->Britt's Donuts Eating Contest
->Dunking Booth
->Art: Chalk Art, Face Painting, and Photo cutouts
->Oyster Shucking Contest
2:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Bands Perform
8:30 pm: Fireworks

For up to date information, see here:
Rededication Tentative Schedule

The work continues...

April 13, 2008

April 11, 2008

Interesting Article on the Sea Turtle Rescue Program and Fort Fisher Aquarium

Three injured turtles pass test swimmingly
For the first time in nearly seven months, Bradley was able to stretch her flippers and go for a swim. Well, her two good flippers, a front flipper that was partially detached and the stump of where a fourth flipper used to be.

But that wasn't slowing down the 100-pound loggerhead sea turtle as she motored around the 6,500-gallon tank at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher...

Star News Article

This story got me thinking about my favorite Pleasure Island YouTube video. If you haven't seen this video of sea turtles hatching and coming to the surface, you really need to find 6 minutes to watch it...well worth the time. Enjoy!!
Loggerhead Hatchling Video

April 9, 2008

Come Out and Help Us Turn the Town Yellow!

On Saturday, May 3rd, everyone is invited to celebrate the grand re-dedication of the Carolina Beach Boardwalk! Show your support by wearing an official, yellow Boardwalk Makeover T-Shirt, which is available on-line, or from the Carolina Beach Chamber of Commerce. Come be a part of this great event, and contribute to our "sea of yellow"!
Current Information

Everyone who volunteered over the last many weeks deserves a big Thank You from the community. This day is the town's way of saying thanks to all involved! There will be outdoor live music, fireworks and last I heard, there is even talk of a parade. Please come out and celebrate the town's spirit as the improved boardwalk begins a new life!!

And a very special thanks to all the individuals who have made financial contributions. Won't you please help as well?

April 8, 2008

The SeaSide Inn is no more...

A couple shots of the boardwalk progress:

Next on tap for the wrecking ball (actually it is a backhoe with a mean lookng claw...see below)

A shot looking towards the Kure Beach Pier...the seas were a bit rough this evening

Is it alive?

(lol, not the actual one...the CB backhoe is not nearly as menacing.)

April 7, 2008

Master Development Plan

On 08 April 2008, the Carolina Beach Town Council will vote whether to approve the Master Development Plan. It is anticipated that the Council vote will be unanimous in support of the plan as it has been a collaborative effort from the beginning.

In case you haven't looked at it, I've included a link for the final draft. Personally, I think it is very impressive and believe it has the potential to take Carolina Beach to a new level. The attention to visuals and architectural details is very impressive and helps showcase the natural beauty of the area. The focus on pedestrian and bike friendly avenues is something that should be at the forefront of any beach community plan. And in this case, they are right on target as they have made it a high priority..

Long term, it will take both residents and business owners to make this plan part of CB's future. But when it happens, it will be a win win for both parties as the plan will make Carolina Beach a nicer place to live and will help business owners prosper. But for now, it is just a road map and we'll have to rely on elected officials to be the steward of this plan and make it an eventual reality.

Master Development Plan--final draft

April 5, 2008

Interesting Letter to the Editor in the Island Gazette

This Letter to the Editor was in the April 02, 2008 print edition. And although it was a bit harsh in areas, I think the author's sentiment is shared by many and I was glad to see it in print. And as for his second to the last sentence, I believe we are seeing a lot more than just a 'whiff,' we are seeing real concrete progress and an ever growing energy within the community to move forward. The best years of Carolina Beach are in it's future.

Thank You

Dear Editor,
Downtown CB has never looked better. Why do I say this?

You might assume I am talking about all the recent beautification efforts made by the Boardwalk Makeover Group, but I am not.

While I wholeheartedly salute the efforts of this tireless group who are finally trying to do something,...anything..., to overcome the inertia that has plagued this area, it really does pale in comparison to the splendor and the beauty of seeing the wrecking ball come to some real architectural eyesores in the CBD (Central Business District).

Yes, nothing quite warms my heart like the progress only a good "tearing down" can achieve!

I haven't been this happy since the Hotel Astor incinerated and did us all a big favor.

Now I know the Island Gazette's editorial regulars, the "everything is perfect just like it is" group, is in a state of misguided panic over the fact that the Kings and the Carolina Apartments, or whatever they are/were, are being cleared to make way for a hotel. A hotel that will inevitable block out the sun, increase traffic ten fold, raise taxes, reduce our fine artesian water quality and bring a plague of locusts to Canal Drive.

"What with Kings being torn down, (gasp!) Where on earth will our tourists be able to buy T-shirts on this island?!?! Or a Rebel Flag/Elvis/Number "3", beach towel, chair and umbrella ensemble?!?!

Well, they probably will have to walk at least another 50 feet to the next beach store. They aren't hard to find, I'm pretty sure the lights make them visible from orbit.

The dwindling, but highly vocal minority, the ardent supporters of the 'blue collar family beach' concept will say something feeble like, "another part of history, sob, Jubilee Park, sob, Ocean Plaza, sob, etc, etc..."


If all these so called 'land marks' were so special and dearly loved how did they fall into the state of utter disrepair that they were?

I'll take a vacant lot over a borderline tenement needing a date with a bulldozer any day.

But what about the Carolina Apartments? I have to admit, it has been hard to ignore the rustic charm of the those 4x8 sheets of plywood that have graced the windows for the last several years now. Hate to see all that go just so we can git us a 'fancy new city-folk hotel.' I actually heard some visitors on bikes comment that parts of the CBD "...looked like that area of El Salvador that they visited on their Church Mission Group."

No lie.

Who needs them out-o-towners? They can just stay on the other side of that bridge right? Who needs their money anyways? Well, namely the folks that own the place that rented the bikes they were riding. They do. The folks that own the restaurants where they will eat lunch. It's called "an e-c-o-n-o-m-y"; and it is not helped by tourists who see such things, go home and spread the word that parts of CB are "third world minus the plane ride."

Casualties of the Progress War you say? One more step in Carolina Beach's inevitable march towards becoming another Myrtle Beach? (Yeah. Right.)

Nope. Just a few more obvious signs of commercial neglect that desperately needed to be demolished with extreme prejudice.

But even though there are still so many more to go. I am still glad.

I am glad that there is new blood on this island that is once more on the move in this desperately stagnated and overlooked area. I am glad there is a Boardwalk Makevover movement. (...though I would still rather see major cosmetic surgery.)

I am glad that two new hotels are approved and on their way to the CBD.

I am glad that there is no longer anything Alan Gilbert and his befuddled "has beens" can do about it. (after all, the only growth I ever saw come from AG's "Smart Growth" was in my tax and water bills.)

Maybe these are the beginning steps to getting rid of the multitude of signs I see more on this island that trees (You know: For Sale! ..Price Reduced! ..Price Seriously Reduced! ..Price Desperately Reduced! Anybody got a match?!)

Maybe then my house might actually be worth what the overly optimistic taxman says it is.

Maybe some impact fees could help our water system produce something that doesn't look like Skim Milk coming out of my faucets.

A flicker of hope! Progress! A whiff of momentum! It's been so long, I'd forgotten what it looked like- so I'll take whatever I can get- Starting with the wrecking ball...
J.S. Johnson
Carolina Beach, NC

April 4, 2008

Out with the Old, In with the New

Took a few photos around the boardwalk area this afternoon:

The first three shots are from the N. end of the boardwalk area where the Hilton Garden Inn will be going up. As you can see, things are moving right along.

The Sea Side Inn is in the background stripped of its contents and siding. Its days are numbered. Click the pictures to enlarge

This sign sums up what is happening all around the Cental Business District

N. end entrance to the boardwalk. They are flooding the ocean side area with beautiful palms and landscaping

S. end of the boardwalk area next to the Marriott...the makeover continues

The Fort Fisher Hermit film

Movie Home Page

The Fort Fisher Hermit; The Life & Death of Robert E. Harrill, a documentary by Rob Hill and narrated by Barry Corbin, explores this unique individual through a series of interviews, photographs and vintage film footage. Common Sense Films of Wilmington North Carolina has spent eighteen months developing a documentary that captures the spirit of this unique individual. Common Sense Films came together in January of 2002 when Rob Hill and Bryan Mahoney rediscovered this local legend. Nate Panning, having just completed a short film with Rob, joined the team and Scott Davis was asked to oversee the production.

After much research and meeting with local historians, Common Sense Films began collecting interviews over a 10-month period that took them through North and South Carolina. By December of 2002 they had collected almost 25 hours of interviews of those who knew Robert Harrill, over 200 photographs, an audio interview recorded in 1967, as well as a collection of 8mm home movies.

“We are ecstatic over the amount of visual documentation that has been collected” said Scott Davis. “Robert Harrill has to be the most photographed homeless person in history,” added Bryan Mahoney.

Intro-The Hermit Walk
Movie Trailer
Movie Review and 'Best of 08 Award'

April 3, 2008

Wilmington, NC--Forbes Best Places for Business & Careers

Wilmington, NC Ranks 38th on the list; Raleigh, NC is ranked as the #1 place in the nation for Business & Careers!!

Forbes Article

Other NC areas making the top 100 list for 2008:
1. Raleigh
12. Durham NC
26. Asheville
37. Charlotte
38. Wilmington
59. Winston-Salem NC
84. Greensboro NC

April 1, 2008

Hilton Garden Inn Update

191-Room Hilton Garden Inn To Open in 2010
Posted on April 1st, 2008

Say it out loud people, because it’s true; Carolina Beach is getting a Hilton. It feels funny to say the words together…Carolina Beach…Hilton. Unbelievable. The next thing you know, someone will be renovating the old Harbor Masters Restaurant to be open for the summer. (Oh wait, that is happening)

On March 11, the Carolina Beach Town Council approved modifications to the plan for a hotel at the north end of the Boardwalk. The modifications centered on the addition of a conference space that can accommodate a 310-person party. The conference space was the main ingredient that developer Russ Maynard, of Seaview Properties, needed to be approved by the Hilton brand.

Mr. Maynard has an experienced hand to see the project through in Gary Price, an approved Hilton developer and operator. This will be the third Hilton Garden Inn that Mr. Price has built. “I’m glad to be here in Carolina Beach and I’m convinced that this hotel will represent a major turning point for the town,” says Mr. Price.
They’re wasting no time—the permit modification was approved at 10:00pm on a Tuesday night, and by 9:00am Wednesday morning workers were already preparing the buildings on the site for demolition. The Seaview Motel and King’s Beachwear building (at the intersection of Harper Avenue, Canal Drive and Carolina Beach Avenue North) will be gone in early April. Construction is scheduled to begin on April 15 and the re-configuration of the intersection should be finished by Memorial Day weekend.

Seaview Properties spokeswoman Arlene Mancini tells us that they are preparing a groundbreaking ceremony for May 3, to coincide with the unveiling of the Boardwalk Makeover. It should be an exciting weekend. (There’s no word yet on whether or not Paris Hilton will attend the event, but don’t worry, SCM is working on it.)

Snow's Cut Monthly Article

Boardwalk Makeover Update--Major Kudos To ALL Involved!!

(email rec'd from the POC 3/31/2008)
Just want to report that even though our weekend was seasonally cool and windy our volunteers came out in force and delivered. We completed another cove, we filled all the planters. We planted a few but were not able to locate all our final planter plants. We also were able to place all the large planters. We would not have been able to do it without the generosity of some of our local company’s volunteer efforts and contributions of two Bobcats, and use of the two planned Hotel properties lots.

Our mural effort which was more vulnerable to the weather at least got painted in pattern wise and will go better with fair weather.

Our palm effort was also completed except for moving 2 in the park. We also got them bedded in with our turkey compost, it took 10 yards, that is a lot of turkey.

The town really stepped up this week with two crews one that cut the sod and another that laid the sod and they were able to install all of our sod which will be loving all this rain about now. Just some real kudos to all our town employees who supported the effort, they were great to work with. We tried their patience with water breaks, electric wiring cuts and sod cutter break downs. Everyone stepped in and kept the train going even with all the little expected derailments. Then they were able to complete the sod effort and clean up all our other messes. Just a great effort. Tim maybe we should send you to Puerto Rico more often. Thanks for setting it all up before you got away.

We were able to complete the base irrigation effort just not complete the fine tune of it. Hopefully we can work out some of the bugs this week.

The welcome center is still getting a work over, We were able to get the roof capped. The drywall got another coat one of many, and we got some more trim. May be this week we can get to painting it on the inside.

The fund raising team again delivered more results and laid ground work for more to come.

Even a memorial service in the middle of Saturdays effort at the gazebo worked out as a donut brake.

All and all I cannot say enough about the whole team effort behind the scenes and in the trenches by everyone, and I mean everyone. We even had volunteers from across the bridge, do they count? Let me just say this team effort is based on a lot of individuals with great talents in many different disciplines, so mix this all up add a lot of generosity and bake and the synergy of this group is truly awesome.

So what is next? We have to paint the mural wall, fund more coves so we can plant them. Get the final plants for the large and small planters and plant them, also add a gel additive to the planter soil to retain water to protect our plants. We also need 2 boardwalk businesses to step up and take on planter water duty for their alley. Install the bench/planters. Begin prepping for the boardwalk concrete paint effort. Start the banner production and install them on all the light posts. Paint the inside of the welcome center install the fixtures and lighting. Paint the Gazebo with some color accents. Install the water fountains, signs and bike racks.

All this in the next 4 weeks. The end is in sight, lets deliver it all early, so we can really be ready for the festivities of celebrating the makeover of our town’s family room.

(end of email)-----------------------------------------------------------
Also, check out the latest pictures from the effort!!
Fundraising Landscaping & Work on Police Sub Station
The Hard Work is Paying Off
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