Ill 11 i Volume 23, Number 8 S Birc BY SUSAN USHER Bird Island lies just south of Sunset Beach on the North Carolina-South Carolina state line, it's old, established dunes both beautiful and desolate. The- tidal marshes, Mad Inlet Creek and clean beachfront lure wildlife, fishei ineii diiu shell collectors throughout the four seasons. Around this island of quiet, however, have stirred years of convi uvciaj aiiu i iiuiui . *>iGov rCCCut!}' rumor held that its absentee owners plan to sell the island to an out-ofstate developer. At a Labor Day weekend meeting of the Sunset Beach Taxpayers Association, a spokesman advised members that he unuersiooa uie owners were naving the island surveyed with the idea of selling it for development. In a recent telephone interview, the owner of the island. Mrs. Ralph C. (Janie) Price of Greensboro, said there was liu tfiitit to tue uite.it G, these nirnors She ana ner husband had owned the island Jointly until last year, when he gave her his half to do with as she chooses. "Before they get overly concerned, the people in -Sunset Beach should check with us on what wc plan lo do. No one has bothered to do that until you called. "At the present time we're not considering any offers, she said. "We're thinking in terms of building a house there." Mrs. Price said she doesn't understand the intensity of local interest in Bird Island. "They ore property owners, we are property owners: we have some rights, too." Approached By Buyers The Prices were approached in the fall, unsolicited, by an out-of-state man wit;, carman money u> one nana nod an offer to buy the island in the other. '-He said he loved the Island and didn't wani to develop ii. didn't need any permits. He was going to utilize it only for good, he told >ts. But then we learned he was checking to see what he could do with the island Y " One House Fire destroyed a rental home on N.C. SCK across from Old Shallatte Baptist Church near Grisscttown late last', Wednesday night No one was injured m the blaze, the Uiini fire reported in the same neighborhood since nightfall that (U) , acvoiuuig lu mwnuKit* anu naicamaw firefighters on the scene. Brunswick County Fire Marshal vcvu uugan u unTau^Muii|( urt [lira, said Sgt Donne 11 Marlowe of the Brunswick County Sheriff's Departitinil Mat tvwe spoiled tire iwuar ill v at about 11:15 p.tn while en route to Seaside in response to a disturbance can. "It had Just started. Flames were visible inside and you could see smoke,' be said But when he attempted to see if anyone was trapped inside, the fire was too hot By the time firefighter* arrived, roost oi the small tin-roof'd. wood-sided house ?ii IvkmKMI TW hniop h (> ?<< H* Johnny Richardson, who bves near by hut who did not hear the deputy"j siren. Mary Smith, an occupant of tlx hooae, said she had left about 10 ? m to go 'coon hulking with friends Shi and one companion had returnee boot* an foot to get her car after thed tract. niMnt start, she added Ms Smith said she had moved tn with hei s F RRi Sftsr a !? SI '964 THC B?UNSWCK BEACON Pf i island's once he bought it. "That deal has fallen through." The would-be buyer was the latest in a scries, including at least one group of South Brunswick Islands developers. John McCarthy, president of the Sunsst Beach Taxpayers Associs* tion, said that the organization has no official position for or against development of the island. T__ (XI _ 4 n? a a milt. r? vvuitiu "We would be concerned about the ecological questions and the increased congestion on Sunset Beach?access would pretty much have to be from Sunset. If the Prices were granted access to the island for their own use, he said, "I don't think there would be anyone who would object to that. I don't think that would be a problem." Access Critical As it would be for any developer, t?K.' Price's decision cn whether i** build honvs on the island hinges upon vehicular access. in iiie late !"Mills the island's only dock was floated away, its only bridge to the mainland burned. The insurance company proved arson was the cause. "I sometimes wonder if we would even be welcome. We've not stayed overnight since then," noted Mrs. Price. ller agent has learned that the couple may be able to get their original permits reinstated to rebuiiu the dock and bridge for their personal nso. "For us it's like getting a driveway permit," she pointed out. Charles Mollis, chief of the regulatory branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington of?!-. - -? ? - 1 _*U . ticv ?? _ rvi iwr? ICVI^VU mk . "We're not close-minded on accepting applications for some manner of access," he said. li wouiur/i be a simple task to gain vehicular access, but it can be done. In my opinion it wouldn't be iuifcwnllr. tost rrooiDiuve But the cost today may be too prohibitive for one family to absorb. The Prices are considering allowing ^Tt4W Z ^ ,u?* - ; S ( Gutted In Rc son about one week earlier after her Calabash residence burned. Shallotte Fire Chief Curman Arnold said Shallotte firefighters outed a fire at the edge of a field near the chuTCu soliicitinc ofici ualk n'edftcS r MARY SMTTM tftr rtgfcti vatdcs r fUus^ri dm! tkftrv?** tfce revtaf !hh Taliotte, North Carolina, TJ RICES AAAY BUILI Not On i development of several homes on the island for that reason. If so, ihe level of density would still be much less than anywhere on the Sunset Beacn mainland, she added. Architects had earlier drawn up two sets of house plans for the Prices, neither satisfBctory. At About tho same time, 1979-80, the Prices became embroiled with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Charleston -ffl <?AM.lAm?inttAn L/UVI IV? v?? UV.V V?Vi V" IV- vv/uufc.?MK??vii of 26 acres of the island to accommodate construction of the Little River Inlet Jetty, which was completed in 1983. On their attorney's advice, the Prices refused to consider any purchase offers and also delayed construction of their own home until the migauon was resoiveo?in ijoj?in the state and federal courts. "We fought a lonely battle. It didn't work out. People need to be aware that every decision marie affects ouorv nlhftr " Because of the potential threat by wave action to fish and shellfish, she added, "we never wanted the Jetty at the end m the island." Twenty-six acres, however, were condemned against their wishes for the project, with the price of $100 to $1,000 an acre negotiated through the courts. The jetty stabilization project, a joint effort of North Carolina, South Carolina, the federal government and Brunswick and Horry counties, was intended to boost the ailing commerciai fishing industry, and included the dredging of part of the Calabash River at federal expense. Conservatiou-Miii iled' "Our record Is on the side ot convtronment," she continued. "We put our money behind what we believe ill While some Sunset R??.ch property owners are concerned about Bird's Island's potential development, she noted, others in the same conunuriity would like to develop the island themselves. (See BIRO ISCANO, Page 21 oci"> ish Of Fires (lay. Then, at about 9 p.m., Waccamaw firelighters put out a fire in a field several miles farther north on N.C. 904. Waceamaw also provided mutual aid to Shailotte at the bouse fire. - ----- lUJIHOTIIWi" Jl?l Wihnfcir mijffct ? flnflghim fan at (fee sfcarrd vtA fcer wi J cstfei lursday, January 3, 1985 D PRIVATE HON \Aarket,: A NARROW, private bridge that once to Bird Island from Sunset Beach was t J r nu^piiui V Filing For BY TKRRY POPF. Brunswick Hospital authorities mil livv 3ct!f\ 5 uvCiaMttory jiiuftllreiil involving its lease agreement with Hospital Corporation ot America during the Jan. 2l session ot Brunswick County Supei :ur Court, saiu Huapitai Administrator Claries Sons. "It will not be filed for the January' docket," Sons said. "It ir in limbo at this point In time." The hospital authority voted unanimously In November to file a declaratory judgment during the Jan. 21 session of Superior Court. It is seeking a legal interpretation of whether or not the hospital's 10-year lease agreement with HCA auioinaucuuy convened 10 a ro-year tease during an apparent absence of restrictive legislation in June. The judgment, to be filed by Stuitlottc attorney Mark lewis, will also attempt to clear up the Issue of who or when the hospital's general nhllgatinn bond? should bo paid. Sons said the judgment Is not asking for n judge io ruie that the county is soieiy responsible for repayment of the bonds Of the original $2.5 million used io construct and equip tne hospital, approximately $1.9 million are outstanding. "I personally, nor the hospital authority, nor HCA, has any intention of Brunswick County being caught holding the bag." Sons said. "The judgment is to simply clarify unanswered questions about our contract because of that window that was opened in legislation." The lease extension may have gone into effect in late June, when a state house till governing hospital leases expired as scheduled, but before a replacement bill < House Bill 1709) actually became law. A clause in the iease agreement signed by the 1I Killed On As of Monday afternoon, there had beef no serious highway accidents r*>/wirted in Rruriswirk f'rmntv throughout the holiday season, said Wiihv Oakley a State Highway Patrol spokespen_r. "We feel red fortunate that we've had no serious injuries for the entire district." Ms. Oakley said. However, the U deaths on county hSghweyi for the year ended st tvec Microwaves [ Shallotte police are investigating uk eariy-mornmg areas-in Monujr at the Scats store in Milliken Shopping Plata on N.C. I*. Forced er.tr> was gained through the rear at the store between t a m and 7 a m.. Chief Wayne Campbell said. The tiaeves took five l?-wct; Sears 25c Per Copy it Soys Owi HMKxJH m -1 ?? provided access a number of years lestroyed by lire It was arson. \ff* _ i n ^mciais rus Ruling On authority in May called for extension of the lease to 40 vears at the earliest opportunity allowed by law . Sons said the declaratory judgment will ask a judge to rule whether w^' Saw the authorit" has ** ^0-year lease with HCA.!? HCA does have a 40-year lease, then the question is, "Do the bonds nave to oe paid off?" Sons said. "We are asking that they tell us the bonds do not have to be paid off. The intent of the lease agreement signed with the authority in May was to eventually maintain a 40-year lease. Sons said. An absence of legislation " triggered mat simple clause" that was placed in the lease agreement calling for a 40-year lease at the earliest opportunity allowed by Law, he said. Sons refuted claims that HCA attorneys are attempting to seek the 4C-y<ar extension through a legal loophole, or that a legal loophole ever regarding Iho bills before tiy le&slation in June. "That's not the case st aii," Sons said. "We had no idea what the legislators would do. When we signed the contract in May, we didn't know what was going to happen in June." At tills point, there are no tax dollars being spent to operate the hospital. Sons said. Since the lease was signed, HCA haa added msre than $650,000 in new equipment to the hospital, and has recently been grsnicu llca.th Agency System's approval to begin a $2.7 million expansion and renovation project at the 60-bed facility. HCA officials are still awaiting the state's approval to begin the project. oun-T uie ui uuitus cunuiiue IU serve their purpose, to build and equip the hospital, it is HCA's "feeling that they shouldn't have to be paid Mi, i>Mu Said. Hi Umi t waiit t County High wo above Last year's figure, she said. Of those fatalities, seven were reported to be directly related to alcohol use, she salu. For the year, 13 fatal accidents were reported for the county with one accident resulting in a double-fataiity. Nine deaths were recorded In accidents on Brunswick County highways In !2S2, four below Use 13 eyvuevfaj ijs 1QM A I T\/~ C*^i IU I Vb cokx televisions and one 12-inch color Sear* television and fom Ktmmxt microwave ovena ShaiiuUe officer* are working with other area law officers to pursue evidence m the rase In addition to working with the abenfT s department on aocne joint investigation!, officers responded to s HA . BT NDERV 1S/31/99 3?34 16 Pages ier " PMC > ago; the insurance company proved ^-v Sj^fw"! iw Lease anyone to construe that we're trying to put the burden on the county." When the authority agreed to seek the declaratory Judgment, they also invited the county or other parties to join the complaint, or to file uipiitif.i thp authority to have tlic cleared up once und for all. In a letter uaieu Nov. iu 10 Auiiioruy Ciiairnmn Robert Sellers, the county commissioners labeled the goals ol U>e authority the eolrity an "somewhat inconsistent." Through their attorney, David Clegg, commissioners also stated in the letter they would not join with the authority on the "question of retroactivity and may seek to Intervene in any sun 10 put forward its position on that question." According 10 Sons, the judgment wili nut ask for the lease to fall under the new MB 170'J, which gives authorities power to set trie length of hospital leases, since legislation cannot be retroactive. HCA will operate under a !!>-year lease if necessary. Sons said, if a Judge rules in favor of paying the bonds, the funds would be obtained from either tiigher hospital rates or county taxes, he said. Even if MCA had purchased the hospital and been held responsible for paying off the $1 9 million bonds, that $1.9 million would liave come from Increased hospital rates, he adJ..I ucu. "There's no such thing as a free lunch," Soar said. MCA's costs will uc auued Imix to uiv iiuDpiuii'ii rate structures, which ls why the authority decided to lease the facility for only $1 a year, he added. "At the time, the question was. 'Do you want money cut of the hospital, or money into the hospital?' " l?c MJU. ys Last Year Of the nine deaths recorded in 1 aw, only two of those vitn: illrectly related to alcohol use, Ms. Oakley utu. "We did not reive a good count on aitwviicutci ucviivi uut ;t?j out' 19S3 statisticsi." she said "The only ones we knew for sure were the two Drcniiir r~ u>? way tn?- reports were tfnt in i**t year." From Sears three minor traffic accidents that occurred Monday afternoon within a 15-minute time period. The rath of activity Monday followed what Chief Campbell railed "a too quiet" week. "It wit art ur (usually quiet time," he tnnA "We had no wreck*. no fuas It was too quiet"