Hurricane Florence

I would like to say a few words about Hurricane Florence and its aftermath. I live in New Bern, North Carolina, one of the areas hit hard by the hurricane. Thankfully the damage to my house was limited to a tree coming down in the driveway and an amazing amount of tree parts that were brought out to the curb. However, not everyone was so fortunate.

During the storm, the Cajun Navy helped rescue people who were stranded by the flood. Other groups also assisted in that effort. Since the storm, we have seen volunteers come in from all parts of the country to help restore power, to help feed people who lost their homes, to help people more large trees that fell, to help remove wallboard and items from flooded homes, and to collect clothing and school supplies for those in need. Neighbors and friends are helping each other in the recovery. There have been free meals for those in need provided by churches and outside groups. Some of the groups involved in helping people impacted by the hurricane are Operation Blessing, Samaritan’s Purse, and Team Rubicon.There are others, but those are the ones I am familiar with. The local churches are playing a major role in the recovery–Temple Baptist Church has provided meals; Without Limits Christian Center has acted as a home base for Operation Blessing. Churches in nearby towns also impacted by the hurricane have also provided food and clothing for those who need it.

The students in Craven County will be out of school tentatively until October 8. The early college students went back to school on October 1. There are still many displaced students and teachers, and I am sure this will be a challenging year for all of us.

This has not been an easy time for coastal North Carolina, but it has been a time of neighbors helping each other and sharing resources. It will be a long process to get back to normal, but we are definitely moving in the right direction. The New Bern Mum Fest will go on as scheduled on October 12 – 14th. Our city is open for business. We have a long way to go, but we will get there through working together and helping each other.

This Is What The Past Few Days Have Been Like Here

This is a video of some of the news coverage in New Bern during the past few days:

The flooding from Hurricane Florence is mainly in the downtown area. I live about six miles outside of town. We are fine. Our power is restored. Our cable and internet has been restored. Some neighborhoods near us were hit hard. There are some people who are not able to get out of their neighborhoods because of flooding. Prayers are needed.

This is an aerial view of the city:

Some Pictures That Illustrate The Past Few Days Where I Live

The following pictures are from posts from various Facebook friends:

Above is our beautiful downtown park area.

A friends’ backyard.

Obviously a photo-shop, but actually the way we feel right now.

I guess he wants to direct traffic!

This is a town near us.

This was one of our local grocery stores.

 

We are grateful to be safe and dry. It’s not over yet, but we are okay. The generator is keeping the power on and we still have cable and internet. I am grateful for prayers.

 

Support Your Local Fisherman

Above is a picture of shrimp boats Tuesday morning at Union Point, New Bern, North Carolina. There were there so that their owners and crew could attend the meeting described below. We need to make sure we protect their livelihood.

Yesterday I attended the Joint Meeting of the Northern, Southern, Finfish, Habitat and Water Quality, and Shellfish/Crustacean Advisory Committee at the Riverfront Convention Center in New Bern, North Carolina. I am not a fisherman (I haven’t even done a lot of swimming in the ocean since I saw “Jaws.”), and I really don’t know a lot about fishing. I have learned over the years, however, that often the best conservationists are the people who hunt and fish because they respect the environment and observe changes in the population of the animals they are hunting or fishing. The meeting was called as a public meeting to discuss a petition from the North Carolina Wildlife Federation (NCWF) to change the rules on catching shrimp in the waters of North Carolina. One of my sources tells me that the impetus behind the petition is the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), which has in the past advocated for regulations that would severely limit commercial fishing.

There were three people who spoke in favor of the rule change—Blakely Hilderbrand, an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, David Knight, a policy advisor for the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, and Jack Travelstead.

The three NCWF representatives painted a bleak picture of fishing in North Carolina if the new regulations were not passed. They mentioned that all the other states on the east coast of America have passed these regulations. Then the people in the other groups got to ask questions. It came out in the questioning that the population of one particular fish that the NCWF claimed was threatened was not threatened according to the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries. It was also noted that the states that had already enacted the laws that the NCWF was requesting had also seen drops in certain fish populations. It appeared that the penalties imposed on the shrimp fishermen didn’t help anyone except foreign countries importing shrimp. It was also noted that there are numerous variables that impact fish population—upstream pollution, chemicals entering the water from activities on the shore or upstream, storms, weather conditions, etc. I should also note here that one of the characteristics of the North Carolina coast is that a severe storm can change inlets and water current patterns. This would also impact the fish population.

At the end of the meeting all of the groups (other than the NCWF) voted to deny the petition to change the laws. This is not, however, the end of the story.

According to the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission website, the next public meeting will be in Wilmington, North Carolina, on February 15th and 16th. This issue will be discussed at that meeting. The decision will rest with the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission. I sincerely hope that they understand that the rules proposed in this petition could end the shrimp industry in North Carolina and eventually put the commercial fishermen out of business. There is no positive side to these regulations—they will not increase the fish population, they will only hurt the fishermen.

 

Why I Oppose The Relocation Of Syrian Refugees To The United States

On February 9, I posted an article about the vetting of the Middle Eastern refugees that are headed for America.

In that article, I quoted a Breitbart.com article:

Two houses in the village (Sankt Johann) are used to house Syrian refugees, but among the opponents of the Assad regime living there SPIEGEL TV tracked down a suspected commander of the Islamic State terror group after tip offs from other Syrian activists. They had identified him as a man called Bassam, a notorious commander said to be responsible for the deaths of dozens of people.

…As Breitbart London recently reported, German security forces have received more than 100 tip-offs that Islamic State fighters may be hiding among migrants currently staying in the country.

Because the government of Syria has dissolved, there is no way of vetting any of these refugees. We allow them to enter our country at our own risk.

Meanwhile, gopthedailydose.com posted the list of American cities that ISIS has listed as targets. In North Carolina, Fayetteville and New Bern are listed as targets.

Recently, the Craven County (which includes New Bern) Board of Commissioners passed a Resolution stating that until there is a way to vet the refugees from countries where terrorists are in charge, Craven County should not accept any refugees from those countries.

Compassion for these refugees is needed, but it would actually be more compassionate to help them find safe places near their homelands where they can live safely until it is safe to go home.

 

North Carolina And The Certificate Of Need

I recently was part of a group that traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina, to hear a legislative committee meeting about the Certificate of Need that is required to open a medical facility in North Carolina.

The following write-up of the hearing can be found at the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA) Website:

The Certificate of Need (CON) hearing was on HB200, a bill sponsored by Representative Marilyn Avila that would remove several types of operating rooms (including those for ophthalmology procedures and colonoscopy) from the list of medical facilities which are required to apply for (a lengthy, expensive, difficult process) and get a CON before they can be set up.

It is our Legislative Action Committee’s position that hospitals have managed to have a monopoly on CON’s for years, have used them to shut individual physicians out of competition, and have used them to drive the cost of procedures up (people who pay for their own health care, and people who are experiencing higher and higher co-pays see this very clearly). This has resulted in higher salaries for some members of hospital staffs and very high retained earnings for some hospitals including the one here in New Bern.

The hearing was fast paced, enormously interesting, and did nothing to dispel our view.

Representative Avila introduced the bill, said a few words about it, and then explained that the group would hear from one person who was in favor of passage of the bill and a second person who was against it.

Connie Wilson, a lobbyist for a group of physicians, spoke first. She was followed by a lobbyist for a group of hospitals. They each spoke for about ten minutes.

Connie speaks fluidly. She’s very clear, concise, and straightforward. She builds her case with facts. She uses charm and humor. (Can you tell I was REALLY impressed?) She made the bill seem like the best thing to come along since sliced bread.

The fellow who spoke for hospitals used platitudes, veiled warnings about what “might” happen if some CON requirements were lifted, and tried to create fear. He did a respectable job for someone who had to defend an indefensible position, but I found myself constantly annoyed by things he said.

Then the questions began.

We’d been given to understand that 5 Representatives were of particular concern to folks who want the bill to pass, and every one of them was at the hearing, and each of them asked one or more questions that seemed to be from a negative perspective.

I’m going to tell you who each of the 5 is, what district he serves, what his contact information is, and then ask you a favor. Here they are…

Representative John Szoka is a Republican serving NC House District 45. His home is in Fayetteville. His office is in Room 2223 of the Legislative Building. His phone is 919-733-9892. His email is john.szoka@ncleg.net.

Representative Josh Dobson is a Republican serving NC House District 85. His home is in Nebo. His office is in Room 1006 of the Legislative Building. His phone is 919-733-5862. His email is josh.dobson@ncleg.net.

Representative Brian Brown is a Republican serving NC House District 9. His home is in Greenville. His office is in Room 604 of the Legislative Office Building. His phone is 919-733-5757. His email is brian.brown@ncleg.net.

Representative Kelly Hastings is a Republican serving NC House District 110. His home is in Cherryville. His office is in Room 1206 of the Legislative Building. His phone is 919-715-2002. His email is kelly.hastings@ncleg.net.

Representative Nelson Dollar is a Republican serving NC House District 36. His home is in Cary. His office is in Room 307-B of the Legislative Office Building. His phone is 919-715-0795. His email is nelson.dollar@ncleg.net.

If you live in the district of one of these folks, please go to see them, give them a call, or email them (expressed in the order of preference), and ask them to support HB200. Do this as quickly as you can. This bill needs to be reported out of the Health Committee, be heard by 2 other committees, and be voted on on the House floor by “crossover” on April 30 in order to remain viable.

Jay Singleton, DO, FACS, spoke at a recent CCTA meeting in Stanly Hall in New Bern, North Carolina. He is an eye surgeon who is supporting repeal of the Certificate of Need (CON). He sums up the issue as follows, “The CON law is one of the few existing laws that has been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  Hospitals have used this law for nearly forty years to become too big to fail in our state.  Many members of the general assembly have been duped by the hospital association and its lobbyists into believing healthcare would collapse and the sky would fall without this dubious law.  Do not fall for the chicken little argument.”

As a resident of Massachusetts, I had cataract surgery on each eye. The first surgery was done in the hospital at Boston Eye and Ear. That is an outstanding hospital, although it has limited available parking and is in the middle of city traffic. The second surgery was done at Surgisite in Waltham, Massachusetts. It was easier to get to, parking was available, and the experience was much easier and less stressful (aside from being much cheaper). Based on my personal experience, I would strongly suggest that the North Carolina legislature repeal the CON law and allow the free market to lower the cost of medical care in the State of North Carolina and to give people the option of receiving quality medical care in small local facilities that specialize in specific areas rather than exclusively in large hospitals.

 

Common Sense During An Election Season

Dave Chadwick describes himself as a 59-year-old African American man, born and raised in Jacksonville (North Carolina), and now living with my family in New Bern (North Carolina).

He recently wrote a letter to the New Bern Sun Journal stating his thoughts on the current election cycle. After reading the letter, I am convinced we need this man in public office.

This is the letter:

I am a 59-year-old African American man, born and raised in Jacksonville, and now living with my family in New Bern.

I am insulted by the arrogance of the Democratic candidates during this election because they talk to us through their advertisements as if we are stupid.

My kids attend public schools here in New Bern. Not only are the staff and teachers at the schools outstanding, my kids have plenty of books.

I seriously doubt if money is really being transferred from the schools to yacht owners. But each time someone purchases a yacht, jobs are created and secured at companies like Hatteras Yachts located right here in New Bern.

I was shocked to hear the radio commercial that featured a couple of ladies suggesting the Republicans were trying to take away the rights of African Americans to vote. The voter ID initiative,(if that’s what they’re referring to) is to preserve the integrity of the vote, and a photo ID can be acquired for free through the North Carolina DMV.

And recently, the commitment of the incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan to a strong military and American security was questioned by the Republican candidate. In her rebuttal commercial, the Democratic Senatorial candidate cited her relatives who have served in the military and her support for the administration’s current strategy regarding the terror group ISIS.

Well, almost everyone in Eastern North Carolina has relatives currently serving or who have previously served in the military. Despite all the “support of the administration’s ISIS strategy,” it doesn’t seem like much progress is being made at stopping them. I just finished watching a CBS, 60 minutes story on Benghazi which is completely inconsistent with the administration’s story.

These things do not invoke trust within me or many of my friends for the current Obama administration. The Democrats are spending an awful lot of money on negative ads designed to discredit Republicans.

Why would anyone choose that kind of strategy over one that highlights their own accomplishments?

Thank you for allowing me to voice this opinion.

 David Chadwick, New Bern

Thank you, Mr. Chadwick, for introducing some common sense into the race.

Mr. Chadwick was recently interviewed on NewsMax TV. This is the interview:

An Inspiring Evening

Tonight there was a meeting of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA) at the Stanley Ballroom in New Bern. The guest speaker was E.W. Jackson, Sr. He is an inspiring speaker and will be speaking at the Foundation Life Fellowship Church tomorrow night at 7 pm. I am sure it will be another amazing evening.

Rather than try to encapsulate Reverend Jackson’s speech, I am going to share the statement in his brochure for Staying True to America‘s National Destiny (STAND), an organization Reverend Jackson founded:

The fate of our nation hangs in the balance. It is time to take a STAND.

We are blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation the world has ever known. We have experienced more liberty and opportunity than any people in history. Ours has been a nation of industry and innovation; of opportunity and prosperity; of decency and generosity; of noble ideals and courageous people. We have always been a nation of faith and freedom. Today however, we are a nation at risk.

The foundational truths which created our country will also preserve it, but we must restore those foundations and stand up for truth. We must restore respect for life, liberty, marriage and family. We must respect every citizen’s God-given right to pursue happiness, but no one should demand a guarantee.

Those who are being lured into a life of government dependence can be awakened to their tremendous potential, but we must engage them. Those who have been told that they are victims can unleash their God-given talents and abilities, but we must liberate them. This is a land of unlimited opportunity for all, but we must show them.

It is time for a rebirth of the freedom for which so many have fought and died. Our Founding Fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor establish this nation. We must be willing to do the same to keep it. It is time to take a STAND.

This is no longer business as usual. This is an emergency. It is time to unify as “one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.” I am asking you to join me in what may be our last opportunity to save this nation. Together, let us make this the Century of America’s greatest achievements–economically and culturally.

This is a message we all need to hear and take to heart.

Coming Together After A Horrific Event

Today’s Sun Journal (New Bern, North Carolina) posted an article about the way Mayor Outlaw handled the recent deadly shooting of a policeman by a local young man. The young man also wounded another policeman. The shooting was horrible, and there is no way to defend the actions of the young man, who was killed during the incident. However, many policemen and residents of New Bern have criticized the way the Mayor handled the aftermath of the event. I think the criticism is unwarranted. First of all, there is no way the Mayor could have handled this that would have pleased everyone. Second of all, the Mayor is not in office to please everyone–he is there to keep order in the town, uphold the law, and do what he believes is right.

The article explains some of the actions of the Mayor in the aftermath of the shooting:

For his part, Outlaw said he went to Stallings’ funeral Thursday because he had known the family a long time.

“When somebody dies, there is a loss to the family, it doesn’t matter to me if it was cancer, a heart attack or someone getting run over by a train, dying a violent death,” he said. “I don’t focus on the death. I focus on the family. …My thought was I have a dear friend and if that friend needs me I’m there for them. That in no way distracts my admiration and mourning for officer Alexander Thalmann. I don’t control why people die. I just know that I’m going to be there for the family.”

The Mayor did the compassionate thing, I don’t think the criticism is appropriate–he was not honoring the shooter– he was being a friend to a family going through a very difficult time. The family did not shoot the policeman–their son did. Why would anyone want to deny them their friend at their son’s funeral?

The Mayor is the Mayor of all of the City of New Bern–he has responsibilities to all of the residents along with the obligations to friends that all of us have. I understand the anger of the law enforcement community, but I don’t agree with it. This is a time to extend grace and pray for healing in the community.

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