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Health Board Seeks Funding For New Septic System Inspector
BY ERIC CARLSON
The Brunswick County Board of Health will ask the
county commissioners to spend $40,000 to hire another
septic system expert to catch up on a serious backlog in
inspections that could result in the county being sued
for not keeping up with them.
Estimating that the county's environmental health
department is "still two years behind" in overseeing
low-pressure, pump-type septic system inspections,
health board member Bruce Quaintance warned
Monday that "there could be legal problems down the
road" unless more staff is hired to do the work.
Pump powered septic systems are more expensive
and complex and require more maintenance than tradi
tional gravity-powered septic system drain fields. The
low-pressure systems are frequently used on small lots
that don't have suitable soils or enough area to accom
modate a regular septic tank system.
Brunswick County has more low-pressure septic
systems than any other county in North Carolina.
"We're talking thousands of systems, not hun
dreds," Quaintance said.
In July 1992 state environmental regulators stopped
overseeing regular inspections of low-pressure septic
systems and required that counties do the work instead.
Each system must have a designated operator who files
regular inspection reports with the local health depart
Quaintancc said a large number of operators aren't
performing the inspections and the county doesn't have
the manpower to make sure the state requirements are
"This is a whole section where nobody is doing the
job," Quaintance told the board. "It was thrown on us
in 1992, but no more people were hired to do it. Some
people are paying (operators) and no one is checking
behind them to see that the inspections get done.
"It's our job to see that these people in Brunswick
County are not getting ripped off," Quaintance said.
He warned that if a low-pressure system fails be
cause it hasn't been inspected, Brunswick County could
face a lawsuit for not making sure the work was done.
"It should never have gotten this bad, but it did,"
Quaintance said. "If all these systems start failing be
cause wc didn't do our job, we're liable."
Chairman Patrick Newton noted that the commis
sioners recently approved pay raises for environmental
health inspectors. He questioned the need for additional
"There needs to be something coming uom the oth
er side in terms of efficiency," Newton said. "Have we
asked Mr. (Health Director Michael) Rhodes if he's
done all he can do? It seems like every time we have a
problem, the answer is to hire more people and spend
Rhodes said the low-pressure systems "take a lot
more time to inspect" and estimated that it would re
quire two additional environmental health specialists
working full time "to do it right."
Health board member Dr. Brad Kerr expressed con
cern about the consequences of not addressing the
"The larger issue is, if we don't do something about
this and there are a large number of people who bought
lots and can't build on them, we could be liable to the
charge that these systems arc not being managed prop
erly," he said.
The health department does not have enough mon
ey in its budget to hire an additional trained inspector
and to purchase a vehicle for his or her use, Rhodes
said. He estimated it would cost $40,000 to fund the
position from January to June, when the new post could
be included in next budget.
In a unanimous vote, the board authorized Rhodes
to ask the county commissioners to fund the new posi
In other business, the board heard a report from its
spay/neuter committee on a plan to require that all dogs
and cats adopted from the county animal shelter be ster
ilized, vaccinated and given a thorough physical exami
nation. The cost of the program would be shared by
each pet's new owner, the county and local veterinari
Kerr, chairman of the committee, reported that the
group is finalizing the plan and hopes to have a formal
proposal for the health board to consider at a future
meeting. If approved, the plan would probably not go
into effect until the next budget year, Kerr said.
Better Manpower, Money, Morale
Town Goals For Sunset Beach VFD
BY SUSAN USHER
Garnering manpower and money
to boost fire fighting and other
emergency services will be the focus
of two committees appointed by
Sunset Beach Mayor Mason Barber
At the Nov. 7 meeting of the town
council, a Sea Trail resident reiterat
ed concerns expressed in writing by
the Sea Trail Property Owners As
sociation about local emergency ser
vices and the relationship between
the town and the volunteer fire de
partment that serves it.
"To outsiders it appears that fire
and emergency medical services are
not tracking the growth here," he
said, referencing a letier sent by
POA President Marvin Peters to the
town. Sea Trail Corporation shares
those concerns, said General
Manager Dean Walters,"based on
growth and what's happening here".
Mayor Barber acknowledged the
community has "a long way to go"
in bringing all emergency services
to the desired level, but said the
town is not likely to "throw a lot of
money in one direction" without as
surances of how it will be used.
Sunset Beach Volunteer Fire De
partment is a nonprofit corporation
with its own governing board. The
department contracts with the town
to provide fire protection services
and receives an annual contribution
in return. It also receives contribu
tions from Brunswick County and
from private individuals and busi
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that include bucket shakes and
monthly spaghetti dinners.
Its 19 members, a minority of
whom actually live in Sunset Beach,
serve an area larger than the town
and respond to calls for mutual aid
from neighboring communities. As
with other volunteer departments
countywide, fewer members arc
available on weekdays than at night
or on weekends.
Also like other volunteer depart
ments, Sunset Beach VFD has "its
ups and downs," said Barber. "The
biggest two things are manpower
and money, but money isn't a prob
lem really. They need more people
and they need a boost to their
"I think we can work it out," he
said. Any solution will require in
volvement by the community as
well as town officials.
"Community people ought to be
helping them with their fundraising.
The firefighters shouldn't have to be
cooking and serving spaghetti as well
as giving their time for training and
for answering calls," the mayor said.
The community could also pro
vide more direct financial support.
The most recent mailing by the de
partment brought $20,000 in contri
butions, which Barber said was "not
a lot" given the community's 2,000
homes. "Some people think that if
the town contributes, that takes care
of it, but that's not enough."
The department has about a half
dozen members trained as first re
sponded, said Barber. They answer
medical emergency calls, providing
first aid until more highly trained
medical personnel arrive. The
Sunset Beach area is served by
Calabash EMS and Brunswick
County EN'S units.
The department has also been try
ing to establish and equip its own
water rescue team.
According to Barber, the fire de
partment receives mostly first re
sponder calls. "They don't get many
for your support.
Now let's all
for the children.
Clara S. Carter
ASSOCIATES, P. A.
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Michael Bartiss, MD ? Frank Christensen, MD
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The Eye Surgery Specialists
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fire calls, thank goodness."
Fire Chief T.J. Lyke has asked the
town to consider making him paid
Barber said the only way the town
could consider going to a paid ser
vice is through a joint venture with
another town, an alternative that
isn't presently being considered but
h?sn't been ruled out.
The two committees will focus on
raising manpower and money to sus
tain and improve existing fire and
first responder services.
Councilwoman Julia Thomas, a
former dispatcher and board mem
ber of the fire department, will serve
on a committee named to work with
the fire department. Other members
are Bob Gallick, Carl Bazemore, Ed
Hughes and Chief T.J. Lyke.
A second committee, expected to
begin work next week, will work to
foster community involvement.
Members are Councilman Herb
Klinker, Sunset Beach Taxpayers
Association President Clete Wald
miller, Robert Pierce and Sea Trail
POA President Peters.
"They're going to get on it as
soon as possible, but they don't
know how much they '.11 be able to
do right away with the holidays
coming," said Barber.
Some of the appointees met with
Barber Tuesday to begin mapping
out their effort, and both committees
plan to meet jointly in the near fu
Peters is out of town bccausc of a
death in his family. Lykc could not
be reached for comment.
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I sincerely appre
ciate those who
supported me in
the Nov. 8 election.
Your support and involvement with the
newly elected school board will also be
appreciated, as we all strive to improve
education for our Brunswick County
Olaf "Bud" Thorsen
PAID FOR BY BUD THORSEN
JOHN A. AZZATO, MD
Board Certified Surgeon
Total Joint Replacement
Mon.-Fri. By Appointment
902 N. Howe Street Southport, NC
NOTICE OF A CITIZENS INFORMATIONAL
WORKSHOP ON THE PROPOSED
REPLACEMENT OF THE SUNSET BEACH
BRIDGE (BRIDGE NO. B-198) ON SR 1172
OVER THE INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY
Project 8.2230101 B-682 Brunswick County
Representatives of the North Carolina Department
of Transportation will hold a citizens informational
workshop on December 6, 1994 at the Jones/Byrd
Pavilion in Sunset Beach, North Carolina. This will be
an informal open house workshop between the hours
of 4:00 and 8:00 p.m. Those wishing to attend may do
so at their convenience during these hours.
The purpose of the workshop is to present informa
tion, answer questions and receive comments on the
proposal to replace the Sunset Beach Bridge on SR
1172 over the Intracoastal Waterway in Brunswick
County. Representatives from DOT and Greiner, Inc.;
a private engineering firm hired to conduct the associ
ated planning and environmental studies, will be pre
sent at this meeting.
Anyone desiring information about this workshop
may contact Ms. Julie Hunkins P.E., Project Manager;
North Carolina Department of Transportation, P.O. Box
25201, Raleigh, NC or by telephone at (919)733-7842.
NCDOT will provide reasonable auxiliary aids and
services for disabled persons interested in attending
the workshop, to comply with ADA. To receive special
services, please contact Ms. Hunkins at (919)733
7842 or you may fax your request to (919)733-9794
prior to the date of the hearing.