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Pamlico residents sound off on wind energy, ferry fees

BAYBORO – An otherwise light Monday night of business for Pamlico County commissioners did include three speakers, with topics that included promoting the county, the downside of wind energy and a citizen’s voice against proposed ferry fees.

The promotional video about the county focuses on its three distinct historical traits – fishing, farming and forestry.

The video was the work of Jayne Robb, the county planner and Candy Bohmert, a community leader who works for the Pamlico County Soil and Water Conservation office.

They secured a $10,000 grant through the state’s Eastern Region a year ago and worked with the soil and water office, the county and the local Committee of 100.

The video features testimonials about the good lifestyle and work in the county, provided through the voices of longtime citizens.

It included the farm aspects from Al Spruill, Justin Lee and Wyatt Whitford, along Debbie Fulcher of Red Fox Stables, who raises Tennessee Walking horses. Adding thoughts were Chuck Forrest of Forrest Farm Supply, David Paul of Paul’s Produce and Bob Lyon, who has been active in the community through the community college and work with the Marine Patrol.

Longtime forestry chief James “Bossy” Hardison and commercial fishermen Keith Bruno also offered insight.

Bohmert said the video, available on flash drives, can be used by the local chamber, the county, the public schools, civic groups and members of the business community such as Realtors.

She said it will also be uploaded to YouTube to add exposure for the county.

A retired physicist gave a PowerPoint talk on the negative aspects of wind energy companies.

John Droz Jr., who lives in Morehead City and said he had more than 30 year of involvement in environmental activism, came at the invitation of Commissioner Christine Mele. Mele has questioned the validity of wind energy and proposals to locate large wind towers in Pamlico County.

Bay River Wind, a subsidiary of the Wind Capital Group based in St. Louis, is scheduled to make a presentation on its local plans to commissioners at the March 5 meeting.

Droz told the commissioners that science finds wind energy inefficient, more costly than other producers of electricity and not environmentally “green.”

Droz told the board to “be critical thinkers” and be skeptical of wind energy development companies.

“Be sure that what you are told is based on the science,” he said.

Droz said he was an early supporter of wind energy, but after research, “it failed to deliver the goods.”

Droz added that the net result of wind towers in the county would harm birds and bats, escalating the mosquito population and reduce agricultural productivity where land for towers might be leased.

The board also heard a complaint against proposed ferry tolls, which would include the Minnesott-Cherry Branch route. It is used by many Pamlico County residents who work in Craven County in civilian jobs at Cherry Point air station.

Larry Summers, who is an Oriental town commissioner, said the state could find better ways of saving money than charging the ferry riders, especially workers who commute daily on the 20-minute ride across the Neuse River.

He said that the state proposes hiring extra staff to collect the tolls, adding that those jobs should be available to local citizens if the tolls go into affect.

The tolls are scheduled to begin April 1, although the overseeing Department of Transportation has not yet announced the prices, which will be selected from four proposals.

The final public hearing on the tolls is scheduled Feb. 15 at Pamlico Community College.