Three Men Drown, One Lives After Boat Sinks Near Inlet
BY DOUG RUTTER
Clinging to a torn life jacket, a
Greensboro fisherman floated at sea for
about three hours Tuesday before drifting
ashore at Holden Beach after a boating ac
cident claimed the lives of three compan
Gary Richardson, 38, was treated at The
Brunswick Hospital in Supply and released
The identity of only one of the three
drowning victims. Jack Lamont Owens Sr.,
61, had been released at press lime.
Brunswick County Coroner Greg White
was withholding the names of the two oth
er victims until their next of kin could be
notified. All four men were from
Owens' 24-foot motorboat boat sank in
choppy seas around 2 p.m. Tuesday about a
mile south of Shallotte Inlet, said
Brunswick County Emergency Manage
mcnt Coordinator Cecil Logan. Details of
the how the boat sank were unavailable
White said Richardson grabbed a life
jacket just before he bailed out of the boat.
Coastline Volunteer Rescue Squad picked
up the man around 4:30 p.m. after he drift
ed ashore at the 900 block of Ocean
Rcscuc squad member Herbert "Midget"
Vamum said the survivor couldn't swim
and was in the ocean for about three hours
holding on to a life jacket that ripped in
half when he grabbed it.
"He's up walking around," White said
Tuesday night from the hospital. "He's OK
other than being a little shook up, of
About 4 1/2 hours after the accident, rcs
cuc workers using the county's surf boat
recovered the three bodies just west of
Holdcn Beach Fishing Pier.
Five rescue workers launched the rescue
boat, which has a fiberglass hull and rubber
pontoons, into strong southwesterly winds
shortly after 6 p.m. The Brunswick County
Sheriff's Department airplane arrived about
15 minutes later.
Using binoculars and standing on a deck
at Mace's Trailer Park, area residents and
visitors spotted two of the drowning vic
tims several hundred yards offshore.
(See MEN DROWN, Page 13-A)
THE B.ES : JC?RACON
Twenty-ninth Year, Number 30 0)9*1 THE BRUNSWCK BEACON Shallotte, North Carolina, Thursday, May 30, 1991 25<t Per Copy 40 Pages, 3 Sections, 4 Inserts
NO COUNTY TAX INCREASE PRQPOSFD
$35 Million Budget
Goes To Hearing Tuesday
BY TERRY POPE
Holding the line on the county
tax rate has its price.
Fifty currently-funded positions
have been cut or reduced in work
time as the county's general fund
will be about SI million less than
The S35.3 million proposed bud
get will go before a public hearing
Tuesday, June 4, at 7 p.m., in the
public assembly building at the gov
ernment complex in Bolivia. Com
missioners can legally adopt a budget
10 days following a public hearing.
Personal property taxes will re
main at 68.5 cents per SI 00 in valu
ation under the proposed budget
tentatively approved by Brunswick
County Commissioners Monday.
In preparing the budget. County
Manager David Clegg assumed the
county would receive SI million
less from the state for the 1991-92
fiscal year. Both he and commis
sioners chose not to delay the bud
get process by waiting for a possi
ble allocation from the state.
"/ hope that we can stay as conservative
as possible with the budget."
? Kelly Holden,
The budget is based on a real
property valuation of $4.05 billion
and a tax collection rate of 95.3 per
cent for projected tax revenues of
S26.4 million, said Lilhia Hahn, fi
Last year's budget was S36.5 mil
lion and was based on the same
68.5-cent tax rate. Clegg cut S7.5
million in requests from county de
partments to keep the tax rate the
same for the coming year.
Persons either losing their jobs or
facing cutbacks arc in the depart
ments of older adults, clean county,
water system, health and social ser
At a budget workshop Monday,
District 3 Commissioner Gene Pink
erton said he received a letter from
Brunswick Community College,
which is concerned about an appar
ent 2.9 percent cut in funding.
The college will receive S5 1 1 ,244,
which is actually a 3 percent increase
from last year's budgeted 5506,555,
However, last month commis
sioners approved a S20.000 budget
amendment for the college. Clegg
said the extra money existed for
BCC but was in another fund.
'To them, it would only appear to
be a decrease," said Ms. Hahn.
Noting a 5 percent increase in
funding to the Brunswick County
Schools, Pinkerton said the county
WATER EMPLOYEES TO LOSF IORS
needed to be fair to both systems.
BCC teaches students that the coun
ty schools often fail to educate, he
"I think 'fair' should enter into
these cuts," Pinkerton said.
Commission Chairman Kelly
Holdcn pointed out that the county
is paying about S505,000 in debt
service this fiscal year for bonds
used to build the college. The total
debt service in the proposed budget
is $7.7 million.
"That's one of those hidden
things in a budget," said Holden. "I
think that's something that people
should keep in mind also."
Pinkerton also said the N.C. Ma
rine Crescent should receive more
than a $3,000 allocation because of
its work with BCC, the Southport
Maritime Museum and its help in
the "overall economic development
of the county."
Holden told fellow board mem
bers, "I hope that we can stay as
(See BUDGET, Page 2-A)
Webb Told To Make
BY TERRY POPE
Five water system employees
will lose their jobs under the 1991
92 Brunswick County budget.
Brunswick County Commission
ers told Public Utilities Director
Jerry Webb Monday to make the
personnel cuts as recommended by
an outside consulting firm hired to
investigate the water department.
"I hate to lose people, but they
called it like they saw it," said Webb.
"We need to get
Griffith and As
sociates of Ra
leigh was hired
in January to
conduct an op
of the public utilities department
and presented its findings to com
missioners last week.
The study recommends that the
county fire five of its water system
employees and hire three temporary
summertime workers to help with
grass mowing. Another mainten
ance mechanic's position will be re
Commissioners accepted the re
"We need to get more efficient. That's
what they're telling us."
? Jerry Webb
port as presented Monday. The posi
tions have been eliminated from the
proposed 1991-92 budget.
Positions held by David "Leo"
Fulford, assistant to the public utili
ties director, and Kenneth Hewett,
water system director, have been cut.
Also, a water treatment plant op
erator for the Northwest plant in
Malmo and two maintenance me
chanic assistants assigned to Ful
ford's office will lose their jobs.
Fulford was hired by the county
in May 1987 and Hewett has work
ed for the water system since Sep
John House, of Griffith and Asso
ciates, said with an organization of
less than 50 employees there is no
need for an assistant director. More
individuals should answer directly
to Webb, he said.
In December, Webb had asked
commissioners for more employees
so he could begin a preventive
maintenance program. However, he
told commissioners Monday that he
agrees with the consulting firm's
"They did what they were hired
to do," Webb said. "I think it's a
comprehensive report, I really do."
Brunswick County Manager
David Clegg said the county got its
money's worth with the report.
The department has already start
ed weekly safety awareness meet
ings and has been developing new
job descriptions, Webb told com
"We've been making some very
definite moves," said Webb. "It's a
long, drawn-out process; it doesn't
Board of Commissioners Chair
man Kelly Holden instructed Webb
to work with Clegg in making the
"If there arc any stumbling blocks,
consult with him (Clegg) first," said
The firm conducted on-site inter
views with every employee of the
water system. It also noted that
morale among water department em
ployees is poor for several reasons.
Mistakes are quickly pointed out,
but employees are rarely told by
their supervisors when they have
done a job well, the report states.
Management techniques and
practices at the water treatment
plants also point to several prob
lems, it notes.
An emphasis was placed on the
perception of reverse discrimination
by the Caucasian staff, who allege
that some of the black employees
are permitted to conduct themselves
in a manner for which white em
ployees would receive disciplinary
action, it stales.
"On the other hand, some black
employees indicated they had been
the victims of racial slurs and preju
dice," the report indicated.
Several employees told the firm
that they had been the victim of, or
witness to, criticism delivered by
Webb in a public forum that caused
the person embarrassment or humil
i la lion.
The report stated that employees
should receive counseling or disci
plining in the privacy of the super
No significant personnel manage
ment problems were noted in the
Family At Play
ST?#F PHOTO BY DOUG RUTTER
Sharon Messier of Bristol, Conn., plays in the sand with her two
year-old son, Corey, Sunday at Ocean Isle Beach. Rain showers
late last week gave way to mostly sunny skies for the balance of the
Memorial Day weekend.
125 Birds Stolen During
Animal Shelter Break-In
BY TERRY POPE
Someone broke into the Bruns
wick County Animal Control Shel
ter near Supply late Saturday and
stole an estimated 125 birds.
The birds were among the 288
confiscated last month during a raid
on a Belville motel that resulted in
charges of cruelty to animals against
the owner. Albeit Sidney Boney.
A number of cockatiels, canaries,
finches and their cages were taken
during a break-in at the shelter, said
Zelma Babson, animal control su
"I don't have a definite number
as to how many were taken yet,"
Ms. Babson said Tuesday. "I'm just
not sure right now."
Animal control workers must
count the birds and determine how
many of each breed were taken be
fore an estimate on the loss can be
given, she said.
Some breeds were more valuable
than others, she said.
The thieves took the most expen
sive birds of the 280 or more, in
cluding a pair of rare finches, said
According to Brunswick County
Sheriff's Deputy William Hewett's
report, someone broke into the shel
ter between noon Saturday and 7:50
(See BIRDS, Page 2-A)
Shallotte Bypass Opens
On Schedule For Memorial Day
aa at j^kitEBa&i:
BY TERRY POPE
AND DOUG RUTTER
The U.S. 17 Shallotte bypass opened without a hitch
last week, just in time for the Memorial Day holiday
and the arrival of hundreds of families looking forward
to fun at the beach.
The long-awaited route opened last Wednesday
moming with a ceremonial "first ride" by Brunswick
County Board of Commissioners Chairman Kelly
Holden and Shallotte Mayor Sarah Tripp.
With the four-lane road open, the long line of cars
that usually forms on U.S. 17 north of Shallotte at the
start of holiday weekends was nowhere to be seen last
Mike Blandino of TJ's Auto Electric saw cars and
trucks backed up several miles north of town Easter
weekend. He didn't see any of that last week when va
cationers arrived for Memorial Day in the South
Brunswick Islands and points farther south.
"We haven't seen any traffic out here since they got
the bypass open. They've been running by here at 55
miles an hour," Blandino said Tuesday. "I think it's a
success that was needed a long time ago."
There were no ribbons to cut and no limousines when
the bypass opened last week. Road crews started re
moving orange and white barricades around 8:40 a.m.
Doug Bowers, division engineer with the N.C.
Department of Transportation, drove the lead car that
took local officials on the first official ride down the
Other passengers were David Batten, manager of
STAFF PHOTO BY OOOO RUTTEfl
THE FIRST PACK OF CARS AND TRUCKS motors south on the U.S. 17 Shallow bypass last
Wednesday morning, with Brunswick County Board of Commissioners Chairman Kelly Holden and
Shallotte Mayor Sarah Tripp passengers in the lead car.
Brunswick Electric Membership Corp., and Marilyn
Williams of Wilmington, district representative on N.C.
Beard of Transportation.
The DOT car lead a pack of about 20 vehicles that
included a tractor-trailer rig and logging truck south on
the 4.8-mile stretch of asphalt
The motorcade then led a trail of northbound mo
torists around Shallotte at 9 a.m. as DOT engineers be
gan making adjustments on stoplights.
Sharon Messier and her family took the bypass on
their way from Bristol, Conn., to Ocean Isle Beach. "It
was fine," she said while relaxing on the beach Sunday.
"There was no traffic either."
While motorists zipped around town, area residents
and visitors with shopping lists to fill coasted down
Main Street in Shallotte without having to deal with the
usual bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Jo Ann Simmons of Bellamy Hardware said Main
Street traffic Friday and Saturday was much lighter than
it was last Memorial Day weekend.
Local customers found it easier to get through town
and get on and off Main Street "Business was a lot bet
ter compared to last year," she said. "I think it's great"
However, Mrs. Simmons said the DOT needs to put
more signs on the bypass pointing the way to the down
town business district. "People could drive right by and
not even know Shallotte's here."
Mrs. Williams, who represents Brunswick, New
Hanover and Pender counties on the state transportation
board, was appointed to replace Estelle Lee about three
She joins the board at a lime when some major pro
jects are underway for southeastern North Carolina, in
cluding the four-laning of U.S. 17 through all of
"I have a lot to leam, but I know this is a big day for
the town of Shallotte," she said at the bypass opening.
A welcome center on the Shallotte bypass near its in
tersection with N.C. 130 West is scheduled for com
pletion in January 1992.
( See OPEN, Page 2-A)