Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Turnpike Authority enters into Pre-Development Agreement to finalize bridge feasibility.

In the following release obtained from the NCTA, the bridge is the all too familiar "one step closer" to becoming reality. This unique public/private partnership has officially merged whereby various partners within the coalition can focus their efforts and expertise to determine feasibility of each critical component. Below is the release:


RALEIGH ––The North Carolina Turnpike Authority today signed the state’s first public-private pre-development agreement for a major transportation project.

“This is a historic moment for transportation financing in North Carolina,” said Transportation Secretary Gene Conti, Chairman of the Turnpike Authority Board of Directors. “With today’s contract execution we are creating a partnership between a progressive state entity and a private consortium to harness the efficiencies and financial capabilities of the private sector to deliver major transportation infrastructure for our state.”

The Currituck Development Group, LLC, whose lead partners include ACS Infrastructure Development, Inc.; Dragados USA, Inc.; and Lochner-MMM Group will work with the Turnpike Authority on the development, design, and financial assessment of the proposed Mid-Currituck Bridge toll project on the Outer Banks.

“The Currituck Development Group is honoured to partner with the North Carolina Turnpike Authority on the development of this important project,” said Juan Santamaria, with ACS Infrastructure Development, Inc. “Not only will the Mid-Currituck Bridge help to reduce traffic congestion in the region, but it will also lead to important job creation in the State.”

The Currituck Development Group will perform financial analyses to determine the overall financial feasibility of the project. Depending on the results of these studies, the Authority may choose to enter into negotiations for a concession agreement with the Currituck Development Group to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the Mid-Currituck Bridge. Concurrently with the financial analyses, the Currituck Development Group will assist the Turnpike Authority in completing the environmental, engineering and design studies, including capital cost estimates, environmental mitigation, regulatory approvals, right of way and utility impact assessments, and construction planning, as well as toll operational strategies and toll market research. While the Currituck Development Group will complete many project development activities, the Turnpike Authority retains responsibility for the required environmental planning process and its outcomes.

"Today’s agreement is the culmination of more than a year of work by Turnpike Authority staff,” said David Joyner, Executive Director of the Turnpike Authority. “Public-private partnerships are an entirely new project deliver strategy for North Carolina, and we look forward to working with the Currituck Development Group to make the Mid-Currituck Bridge a reality.”

Public-private partnerships are formal collaborations between public agencies and private concessionaires that capture the advantages of private sector participation while maintaining public accountability to develop new infrastructure. These partnerships can be an effective way to deliver much needed infrastructure while minimizing costs and risks to the public.

A Mid-Currituck Bridge would be a toll facility approximately 7-miles long, making it the longest bridge in North Carolina, and cross the Currituck Sound connecting the Currituck mainland at US 158 near Aydlett with NC 12 on the Outer Banks south of Corolla. Construction of the Mid-Currituck Bridge would begin in late 2010 and open to traffic in 2013.

Additional project information and a copy of the PDA can be found at

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A small push for further safety and awareness in the 4WD

A much needed step in the right direction to encourage responsible enjoyment of the wild horses and the 4wd area overall. Hopefully the response will be positive and the impact on the area minimal. Below is an article from The VA Pilot's Jeff Hampton:

By Jeff Hampton
The Virginian-Pilot
© April 24, 2009
Large signs on wild-horse tour vehicles and radio broadcasts of local regulations are part of a new plan to control unruly beach driving on Currituck County's northern Outer Banks.

The latest effort to promote safety and good manners seeks to gain some control over a beach that can become a mix of wild horses, families playing near the surf, and people fishing while horse tours, visitors, locals and construction crews drive back and forth through the day.

Residents in the four-wheel-drive area have reported that some visitors trespass onto their property and drive recklessly. A wild horse was euthanized last month after being hit by a vehicle.

Recommendations from the new plan are voluntary, said Karen McCalpin, executive director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund and a member of the Wild Horse Advisory Group, created earlier this year.

"We'll see how it goes and evaluate it at the end of the summer," she said.

Among the recommendations:

- Tour companies would put large signs with the company name on each side of their vehicles. Participating companies would be promoted by the Wild Horse Fund and possibly the county tourism department.

- Tour company owners would attend a brief training session organized by the Wild Horse Fund.

- Currituck County would broadcast beach driving regulations and information on wild horses.

- Four-wheel-drive rental companies would get letters about the new recommendations.

"I think this is a good idea," said Jay Bender, owner of Corolla Outback Adventures. "It's not only good for us and gives everybody early recognition, it adds a little professionalism."

Bender's family has run a tour service since 1962, he said. The Wild Horse Advisory Group has several tour operators, including Bender.

A herd of about 100 wild horses is one of the biggest attractions to Currituck's northern Outer Banks, one of the few places remaining with nearly unrestricted beach driving.

At least seven companies operate tours to see small bands of the herd roaming through 12,000 acres that include land set aside for wildlife and small communities without paved roads.

In the summer, nearly 5,000 visitors a week stay in beach rental homes in the four-wheel-drive area. About 150 people live there year-round and drive back and forth along the beach to work and shop. Hundreds more drive onto the beaches every day during tourist season.

Over the years, regulations have been developed specifically for the northern Outer Banks that include staying at least 50 feet from a wild horse and a speed limit of 15 mph when driving near people.

Currituck County deputies regularly patrol there.

Jeff Hampton, (252) 338-0159,

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Currituck Not Likely To Raise Property Taxes

County Officials seem to think a tax increase would not be necessary this year. According to the Daily Advance article written by Jennifer Preyss, the county should be able to hold the line...and their breath.

By Jennifer Preyss
Staff Writer

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A tax increase seems unlikely this year in Currituck County, county officials told the board of commissioners.

“We’re still balancing numbers, but we’re not anticipating tax increases on anything,” Finance Director Sandra Hill said.

Hill and County Manager Dan Scanlon unveiled a portion of the 2009-10 spending plan at a work session last Monday.

The meeting was the first of several to be held in coming weeks, as the new seven-seat board prepares to adopt a budget by the end of June.

Because of the recession, spending is expected to remain light and tax increases appear unlikely in the coming year, Scanlon said.

The current 2008-09 budget of $47.9 million, adopted last June, held the line on taxes and fees. The property tax rate is 32 cents for every $100 of assessed value. Discussion last week centered on special revenue funds, which are dedicated for specific purposes.

For example, Scanlon presented balanced budgets for the fire equipment replacement fund, transfer tax capital fund, property revaluation funds, school capital and occupancy tax dollars.

Revaluation budget

One of the county’s annual spending priorities is transferring $121,000 from the general fund to the revaluation fund to pay for state-mandated property assessment appraisals, which determine property values.

Property appraisals are required at least every eight years, and can cost up to $1 million for computer software and outsourcing appraisers.

Currituck’s next revaluation effective date is not until Jan. 1, 2013, but the county will begin preparing for the next assessment as early as next year. The current estimated fund balance for the fund is $538,981.

Fire equipment fund

The fire equipment replacement fund sets aside money for buying and maintaining fire engines and equipment.

It has about $41,000 left over from when the county still taxed each of its fire districts. An additional $266,528 will be transferred from the general funds to the fire equipment balance.

Because the purchase of one replacement fire engine costs about as much as the total estimated actual 2009 balance of $418,156, Scanlon recommended the commissioners consider cutting operational costs of each fire station by $25,000, and routing that money to the fire equipment replacement fund.

“You heard each station say their equipment was in good shape,” Scanlon said, referring to a recent joint meeting with commissioners, fire station chiefs and the fire and emergency and medical services board.

Agreeing that cutting firehouse operational costs would benefit the county, Commissioner Barry Nelms said the stations will “make do with what they have to work with.”

Fire equipment funds may also go toward construction of a regional training facility for volunteer firefighters. Currently, firefighters travel to Virginia Beach for training, at a cost of $500 per week.

School capital fund

Commissioners also discussed spending options for the nearly $1.3 million in revenues left over in the school capital reserve fund from the construction of two new elementary schools in Moyock and Shawboro.

In all, roughly $3.4 million remains in the school facilities fund, which Commissioner Vance Aydlett suggested using to pay down the county’s $8 million debt from the Jarvisburg Elementary school completed in 2007.

Commissioners agreed the county may want to investigate other uses for the money, including the construction of a garage for county school busses and other vehicles to be mechanically serviced.

Tourism fund

Uncertain of the economy’s role in the tourism market this season, Scanlon said funds generated from the 6 percent occupancy tax may decline somewhat.

“We’re projecting a slight decrease in occupancy tax this year,” he said.

Approximately $2.6 million, or 2 percent of the total occupancy tax, will be used for tourism promotion, including $245,182 for departmental salaries.

Tourism Director Diane Nordstrom’s operating budget is about $2.2 million, which includes utilities, travel expenses, and $1.8 million specifically earmarked for advertising and promotional efforts.

The remaining 4 percent of the total occupancy dollars are used for tourism related efforts, such as the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

Scanlon’s tourism-related budget proposal included a $75,000 for the Corolla Horse Fund, and $900,000 for Whalehead projects.

Another work session is scheduled for the next two concurrent Mondays to continue discussions on the general budget and county enterprises.

A final budget will be presented at a regular Board of Commissioners meeting near the end of May, or early June for approval. Commissioners must agree upon and adopt the budget by June 30. The a new budget will go into effect July 1.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Corolla Wild Horse Fund Hires New Herd Manager

After an extensive search process, Executive Director, Karen McCalpin, announces that the CWHF has selected a new herd manager. Below is an email introducing their selection, Wesley Stallings:

I am pleased to announce that Wesley Stallings of Louisburg, NC will be assuming the position of Herd Manager as of May 25. We had many qualified candidates and our decision was made based on which candidate met the majority of the most heavily weighted requirements of the job. Wesley will be relocating with his wife, daughter, and their horse. Wes’s background includes positions as Park Service Supervisor for Franklin County Parks and Recreation; Assistant Manager of the Senator Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center in Williamston, as well as a Farm Manager. Wesley has shown horses in the American Quarter Horse Association circuit, started colts, attended horse shoeing school in Oklahoma, and has extensive experience in herd health and nutrition. He currently operates his own business installing and repairing underground irrigation systems. We look forward to welcoming Wesley and his family to the Outer Banks.

Wesley is planning on brining his horse with him and is looking for property where he can keep the horse. Preferably this would be a house and acreage. If anyone knows of such a property for sale or lease, please contact me. Also, Dawn Stallings will be looking for work in the Social Work field. She has been a social worker at a domestic violence shelter for about ten years.

Once Wesley is here and settled, we will host a “meet and greet” to give everyone an opportunity to spend some time getting to know Wes.

Karen H. McCalpin

Executive Director

Corolla Wild Horse Fund

P.O. Box 361

1126 Schoolhouse Lane

Corolla, NC 27927