Tag Archives: Ocracoke

Ocracokers still face threat, in Senate, of new ferry tolls

Since we just returned from Ocracoke, I’m posting this News and Observer Article in full in hopes some folks might call their legislators and speak out AGAINST charging a toll on the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry Route.

Remember, there is no way to reach Ocracoke Island except by ferry and their economy is totally dependent on tourism.  Day Trippers, who take the free ferry, are a big part of their income.  Not to mention the cost to the locals when they have to leave the Island.

As this article points out, this is really only an extension of the road system in North Carolina…


The ferry toll fight is not over for Ocracokers.

Senate Republicans are expected next week to propose that the state collect tolls on all four ferry routes that now are free – including the Hatteras-Ocracoke and Currituck-Knotts Island ferries – and to increase toll rates on three other ferries. The changes would be written into the Senate’s version of the budget.

“The tolls have been fairly low, and they’re just trying to get them up closer to what would be reflective of the current cost of service,” said Sen. Neal Hunt, a Raleigh Republican who co-chairs the Senate Budget Committee. “Not trying to cover the entire cost, but just a little bit more of it.”

The Republican-led House agreed a few weeks ago in its budget proposal to keep the Knotts Island and Hatteras-Ocracoke ferries toll-free. Ferries provide the only link between the two islands and the North Carolina mainland. Ocracokers protested that it would be unfair to make residents and visitors start paying.

Republicans in both chambers want the state Department of Transportation to increase toll collections by several million dollars a year. The House budget proposed to have ferry riders pay an additional $7.5 million a year, part of a push for $160 million in higher tuition, tolls and other user fees.

Hunt said some Senate leaders believe travelers should be charged on every ferry route. He said the Ocracoke and Knotts Island issue probably will not be decided until House and Senate negotiators meet to resolve their differences on the budget.

“That might become a conference item,” Hunt said.

The 40-minute Hatteras-Ocracoke ride is the state’s busiest and most expensive ferry route, carrying 339,000 vehicles a year at a cost to taxpayers of $9.4 million. The Knotts Island ferry serves 25,000 vehicles each year.

Tolls on three routes cover only 7 percent of the cost for all seven ferries. The highway fund, drawn mostly from gas tax collections, pays the rest.

Rep. Tim Spear, a Creswell Democrat, supported the House budget after GOP leaders accepted his amendment to keep the Hatteras route toll-free. Since other North Carolinians can drive to and from their communities without paying for each trip, he said, tourists and residents need a free route to Ocracoke.

“Anything that might discourage tourists from visiting the island, like a toll on the ferry, would be crippling to them,” Spear said Friday. “We don’t have a bridge there. The ferry is just an extension of the highway system.”

Spear said it will take more than the ferry issue to determine his final vote on the budget. He said he also is concerned about sharp proposed cuts to education spending. School buses are among the regular users of the DOT ferry from Knotts Island to Currituck. When the ferry across Currituck Sound isn’t running, drivers travel to the North Carolina mainland on a circuitous trip that starts on Virginia roads.

Rep. Bill Owens, an Elizabeth City Democrat who pushed the exemption for the Knotts Island ferry, said state spending on the ferries – $42 million this year – is about what it would cost to build six miles of highway in the mountains.

“We pave and maintain other people’s highways,” Owens said. “We should maintain the ferries to allow residents to get to their schools and courthouses.”

Ocracoke residents have flooded legislators with phone calls, emails and Twitter and Facebook messages seeking to keep their ferry toll-free.

Rudy Austin, a boat captain and Ocracoke civic leader, said the Republicans who took charge of the legislature this year don’t understand how Ocracoke depends on ferry service.

“I realize that you’ve got a bunch of people up there that’s just been voted in,” Austin said. “And they’re running around like crazy, throwing different ideas around. If they knew our situation and knew how fragile our little economy is, I think they would think differently.”

via Ocracokers still face threat, in Senate, of new ferry tolls – Traffic – NewsObserver.com.

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Ocracoke Island Vacation Journal: Part 4

It’s our last day on the Island….

This week has flown by…

We had a great time at the wine tasting at “Zillie’s Pantry” last night.  Those events are always great fun.  Then we began a new tradition by going back to our friends Lee and Michael’s cottage where Lee made us a great pasta dinner.  So much better than calling out for pizza as in previous years…

Today, we had lunch at “Jason’s” then drove down to the Cape Hatteras ferry dock just to see if anything was new.  It wasn’t.  We did enjoy a walk through the dunes out to the beach and a great view of the sound.  The scenery here really is breath-taking.

We still hope to make it to Springer’s Point later today when we take the bikes back.  Then dinner at “The Flying Melon” one last time for this trip.

Then the ferry ride to Swan’s Quarter tomorrow and the drive back to reality.

Sometimes, the ferry rides are the most interesting parts of the trip.  But the excitement is usually coming to, not leaving, Ocracoke.

Last year there were a group of drunk East Carolina University students on board.  One young lady decided to spend the crossing in the cab of their truck with her boyfriend.  The entire ferry had a show we used to only see at the porno drive in movies…

This year, we only had a bicycle club on the ferry with us coming out to Ocracoke.  They just  brought the entire contents of REI Sporting Goods with them.  It wasn’t nearly as entertaining…

It’s been a great trip with great food, beautiful scenery, peace and quiet- and time to spend with friends and to read and relax.  It’s been too short….

We just reserved the house again for next year….

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Ocracoke Island Vacation Journal: Part 3

Well, yesterday didn’t go quite as planned.

But that’s okay.

We’re on Ocracoke.

We had been looking forward to hearing Katy Mitchell sing at “Dajio’s” last night, but unfortunately, she canceled at the last minute.  We still had an excellent meal that seals Dajio’s place, along with “Jason’s” and “The Flying Melon” as one of the top three restaurants on Ocracoke- and on the whole Outer Banks.  I’ve never eaten anywhere else on the Outer Banks that could touch these three…

Hopefully, we’ll get to hear Katy Mitchell someday.  Her CD is really excellent.  This just give us something to continue to look forward to….

I just finished Michael Parker’s brand new book, “The Watery Part of the World.”  Anyone who loves Ocracoke and the Outer Banks should read it.  It is a work of fiction set on fictional Islands on the Outer Banks, but you will readily recognize Portsmouth Island, Ocracoke and their history as being an inspiration.

Speaking of history, there is a lot of it on Ocracoke.  Blackbeard, the pirate, was killed here.  There is a great historical museum on Ocracoke, run by the Ocracoke Preservation Society, that gives you a lot of other local history and a real feel for how life used to be on the Island.

For more history, visit Philip Howard at  “The Village Craftsmen” and take one of his Ghost Walks.  They may touch on the supernatural, but they really offer a great deal of fascinating local history.  Philip also publishes a great blog at the Village Craftsmen’s Website.  http://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/

Speaking of the Village Craftsman, this is one of several great shops on Ocracoke.  A lot of the art in our house- and we have a lot of art- came from these shops and Orcracoke and Outer Banks artists and potters.  Kathleen O’Neal’s shop- Island Artworks- is another stand out shop.  Just take the time to roam through them all…

We had a great walk down the Ocracoke Nature Trail, across from the Campground, this morning.  In all the years we’ve been coming to Ocracoke, we had never done that before..  It’s nice to know we still have more to discover here as we intend to keep coming back.

We also had another lovely walk on the beach…

Tonight it’s off to the wine tasting at “Zillie’s Pantry” with our friends Lee and Michael.  Then we will try to pull together dinner at their cottage.  But who knows?  Anything can happen on Ocraoke and those wine tastings can always lead to a change in plans!
More to come…..

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Ocracoke Island Journal: Jimmy Creech, the Methodist Church and Gays

It’s no secret Ocracoke Island is one of my favorite places.  We go every year.  It has the kind of tolerance and mutual respect for others that one generally sees in places that are either very big or very small.

This is an interesting article about one of its former citizens from Philip Howard’s blog.

Thanks to my friend Madonna for sending this to me…

Jimmy Creech was pastor of the Ocracoke United Methodist Church from 1973-1981. His impact on the church and community was profound and lasting. While Jimmy served his Ocracoke congregation he was also active in the volunteer fire department, promoted local musical gatherings, participated in variety shows and theater productions, organized an active youth group, helped sponsor cooking classes in the parsonage, and contributed to numerous other civic and community projects.

After leaving Ocracoke, Jimmy served other churches in North Carolina, and in Nebraska. In 1984, a member of Jimmy’s congregation came out to him as gay and announced he was leaving The United Methodist Church because of its policies toward lesbian, gay and bisexual members. Increased knowledge of these issues in the church and society transformed Jimmy’s life and ministry. He began to publicly challenge the church’s teachings and policies about homosexuality and to advocate for the full inclusion and acceptance of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the church and society. Eventually Jimmy’s ordination was revoked in 1999 for performing same-sex unions.

In March, Duke University Press will be releasing Jimmy’s new book, Adam’s Gift, the story of his defiance of the church’s official position.

via Ocracoke Island Journal: Jimmy Creech.

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