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PAGE 4-A, THURSDAY, JULY 25. 1991
Bad Ideas Can Destroy
Our Beaches ? For Good
You could say the mayors of the South Brunswick Island
beach towns have a bad case of tunnei vision, too. along with
everyone else who believes there is a quick-fix solution to
They would like the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission to
relax a six-year ban on seawalls because some oceanfront areas
need immediate relief from erosion.
As in most things in life, there is no simple and quick solu
tion to the coastal problems we face, and a receding shoreline is
The CRC meets this week in Beaufort to consider a contro
versial proposal to allow seawalls, jetties and groins to be built
on the beach if they would not "cause significant adverse im
pact" or if they would "provide overriding public benefits."
Several CRC members initiated the proposal in March,
much to the delight of those who narrowly view bulkheads as a
reasonable solution to battle nature's work against our shoreline.
Brunswick County beach mayors think the ban on hard
structures should be loosened and each bulkhead, seawall or
groin proposal considered on its own merits. They may be right
in that no blanket policy or law can fit every case. However,
laws are not made to be so flexible but are instead for everyone
to live by. no exceptions.
There is nothing appealing about a wall of boards, rock jet
ty. concrete-filled sandbags or pilings rising from the surf that
denies public access to the beach, regardless of whether a town
or individual ordered it there.
No matter how much an oceanfront erodes, the beach itself
doesn't disappear, unless it meets with a seawall or other hard
structure first. There are other ways to save the beaches, if that's
what we are really trying to save.
The state's ban on seawalls imposed in 1985 has helped to
maintain public beach access here along the North Carolina
coast. In the past six years, some homes have washed into the
ocean while others have been relocated or inched closer to the
pounding surf, but the beach itself hasn't disappeared.
Things would drastically change if the ban is lifted. Man
would ignore the evidence against seawalls and reach for the
quick-fix solution to save private property at the expense of a
public beach. Towns would ignore the evidence against groins
and ask that they line the inlets.
Such seawalls may save some investments, but then shift
the damage to others along the beach, who will also want a sea
wall, and so on.
When we have finally replaced our wide, sandy beaches
with a continuous row of concrete piers or rocks, as has hap
pened in some northern states already, there won't be a beach as
we know it today.
We will have destroyed what others have worked so hard to
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Fired Employee Did Good Job
To the editor:
I attended a meeting Monday night at the Brunswick Cour.iy Board
of Health in regard to the firing of Zclma Babson (county animal con
trol officer). They did not allow any positive testimony from the public
as to the outstanding job she has done. 1 would like to take this opportu
nity to point dial out.
Under Ms. Babson 's direcUon the conditions at the pound are mat of
a well-run kennel. Over the last ten years I have visited numerous ken
. nels and neighboring county dog pounds, not to mention my own breed
ing kennel, so 1 do know a well-run kennel when I see one. The facili
ties arc not only clean, the animals arc well ueated. Sick animals are at
tended to and not left to lay there and suffer.
Before Ms. Babson, I had tried to report an animal abuse case to the
pound. They referred mc to the sheriff's department, which informed
me 1 had to swear out a personal complaint. As I was concerned about
(See FIRED, Following Page)
Kids' Golf Clinic Took Me Back To Early Days
I hail the pleasure of visiting the
"Hook A Kid On Golf program
last week at Sea Trail Plantation
Thirty local kids, many of whom
had never even picked up a golf
club, were introduced to the basics
of the game during the week-long
Brunswick County was one of
only 25 sites in the country chosen
lor the nationally-sponsored pro
gram this summer, which means the
youngsters who got to participate
were pretty darn lucky.
Watching the kids practice their
putting, chipping and driving last
week brought back a lot of memo
ries of w hen 1 first learned the game
1 didn't have the benefit of an or
ganized clinic or instruction from
club professionals like these kids
No, 1 learned golf the old-fash
ioned way ? from relatives. 1 can
vividly remember my first experi
ences on the golf course. They were
Doug w ^
Rufter D _
witli my lather, brother and uncle.
Hie course they use to play had a
rule thai nobody under 12 years old
was allowed to participate. I must
have been about 10 years old at the
time, and this rule didn't sit too well
I always thought the rule was un
necessary. especially when we were
the only people on the golf course.
Anyway, we respected authority
and stuck to that minimum age rule
as much as possible.
Actually, I really shouldn't lie
about it. As soon as we were far
enough away from the clubhouse so
nobody could see us. I would start
playing, using my brother's golf
That reminds nic of another rule I
never liked. The rule said anyone
who wasn't taller than the wooden
clown at the boardwalk in Ocean
City. N.J., wasn't allowed to ride
the race cars.
Every summer we'd go to Ocean
City for vacation, and every sum
mer 1 would run to the end of the
boardwalk to see if I was taller than
It must have taken 10 years to
grow as tall as that stupid clown.
For a while there, I think the clown
was growing faster than I was.
I must have been 1 5 before I was
able to ride those dumb race cars.
By that time, my brother had gradu
ated to the more advanced rides,
and I was racing cars with a bunch
of overgrown second-graders.
As -t turned out, my years of
waiting were wasted. The ride
wasn't that good anyway. And I al
ways got stuck in the yellow car
that broke down going into the hack
Hut lot's got hack to golf. As I
said, 1 was using my brother's goll
clubs and not doing tin) well with
them. The problem was, tlicy were
right-handed clubs and I felt more
comfortable playing left-handed.
When I was old enough to play
legally, my father bought me a
starter set of left-handed clubs.
They were cut short to lit my Ixxly.
I've been swinging hard ever since.
Since those early days, I've gone
through two sets of golf clubs, hun
dreds of golf balls and tees and
thousands of ups and downs on the
You might have noticed that I
write a lot about golf. I just think
it's a great game. It's a game that a
12-year-old hoy can enjoy just as
much as an 80-year-old woman.
Golf is something thai I will play
the rest of my life. Hopefully, some
of the kids who went to the clinic at
Sea Trail last week found some
thing they can enjoy for lile.
ALL WE WAKT IS ONE TEENY LITTLE
LOOPHOLE, BIG ENOUGH FOR A FEW
THOOSANP TONS OF ROCK!
I Don't Understand The Tobacco Business
There are a few things lhai I'd re
ally like to do before my time is up
on F.arth. They are two ralher sim
ple things in life, for my wishes are
One is to hop on Interstate 40 and
drive all the way to California, with
a decent car. I'd want plenty of time
to occasionally stray from the inter
state to see more of America than
just four lanes of asphalt.
I want to drive to the west coast
and see what lies in between here
and there ? the deserts, canyons, big
cities, mountains and different ani
mals ? and to take rolls and rolls of
film to document the trip.
Another thing I'd like to do is at
tend the tobacco market in
Whiteville. As 1 said, 1 don't ask for
lex) much in life.
I've never been to a tobacco mar
ket. I've seen them, but I've never
even stepped inside a tobacco ware
house. One of these days I'm going
to go, just to see what I'm missing.
I saw news reports of opening
day at the market in Columbus
County last week. It made me wish
that I had been there.
My grandfather was a tobacco
Pope * ?
farmer in Mac.;. He'd head to ihe
market in the wee hours of the
morning during the dog days of
While he would scurry about the
warehouse hoping for "fair" leal
prices, my grandmother would lake
the children downtown to buy
school clothes. These are not my
memories, but are those of my
Such trips to opening day of the
tobacco market have become lost
between the generations. Somehow
1 feel robbed of a part of my south
ern culture. Can one trip to a tobac
co market cure my curiosity? My
main concern is that I'd get there
and not know what the devil was
From what I've scon on televi
sion, ihe warehouses are huge wiih
rows and rows of golden lobaeco
slacked in burlap sacks. A row of
men walk alongside of the tobacco
while listening to an auctioneer
rapidly spit out a line of numbers.
1 think those numbers arc the
prices per pound, and I think that
row of men arc the buyers, from
R.J. Reynolds, Philip Morris and
other cigarette companies.
I've noticed these men may pick
up a leaf, turn it over in their hands,
feel it for texture and drop it back
on the pile. But the tobacco on that
floor doesn't look anything like the
tobacco inside of cigarcttes. How
can they tell?
When 1 was young, 1 remember
there were still a few tobacco farm
ers left in Maco. They would pass
the house in the late evening, proba
bly getting an early start for the next
The tobacco in their trailers
would be lied down with burlap and
straps, but some golden leaves
would fly loose and land along the
I once gathered up a handful and
hung it in my bedroom. Don't ask
nic why. 1 liked the sweetness of its
smell. If you ever get behind a
slow-moving trailer of tobacco, in
stead of thinking ugly thoughts you
should roll down your car window
and let in that sweet smell.
I hate cigarette smoke, but I like
the smell of tobacco leaves. I don't
drink coffee, but I like the smell of
Both as a child and today, 1 don't
understand this tobacco business.
My mother inherited pan of grand
father's tobacco farm. She still re
ceives this information in the mail
about tobacco allotments, stabiliza
tion prices and U.S. Department of
Agriculture pamphlets that I've
Many farmers gradually got out
of the tobacco business. Some
farms have become subdivisions in
Brunswick County. Other farmers
have turned to the produce market
While die days of small. North
Carolina tobacco farmers are num
bered, 1 really want to go to the
market, just once, to sec what I've
Center Vision Is Exciting,
But Is There A Less Costly Alternative?
Schooi board member Robert
Slockett has an exciting vision: a
partnership of educators, industry
and community creating a regional
scicncc, math and technology edu
cation center. It would be loeated,
of course, in Brunswick County.
A go-getter, Slockett wants to see
that vision become reality now, not
sometime in the distant future. The
slow-turning wheels of bureaucracy
have frustrated him, as have the rc
lucuince of others to buy into the
dream as wholeheartedly as he has.
The idea started out smaller ? a
teacher education center to better
prepare Brunswick County teachers
to teach these spcciali/.cd and rapid
ly-changing fields, perhaps housed
initially in a single classroom and
officc. The old Pincy Grove School
was proposed as a possible site.
The vision expanded, fueled in
part by the interest expressed by a
major potential donor, DuPont, in
supporting a regional project. After
all, the company's Cape Fear Plant
al Leland draws significant numbers
of employees from at least three
The idea of the center is worth
while: to keep teachers up to date in
advances in these fields and in the
teaching techniques and equipment
needed to share them with students
through "hands on" learning activi
ties. Ideally, teachers could earn
course/certificatc renewal credit
without paying tuition or else re
ceive some sort of stipend.
Get teachers and students inter
ested and excited about what
they're doing, get them teaching
and learning the right stuff, and the
result should be higher test scores.
Furthermore, students should be
better prepared to continue their ed
ucations or to enter an increasingly
Other programs would be aimed
at the general public, increasing
their awareness of the importance of
math and science education in mod
Sounds great. The school board
thinks it sounds nicc, as do the di
rectors of the loosely-structured
Brunswick County Educational
Foundation and a fledgling Science
Alliance. Teachers have identified
ways such a center could benefit
them and their students.
So what's the catch?
First, such a center would be very
expensive to operate and to house
Several industries have expressed
a willingness to contribute start-up
equipment, materials, expertise and
possibly cash But to date no one
has come up with a precise propos
al, in part because neither the
BCEF, Scicncc Alliance or Board of
Education wants to take the role of
lead agency. We also have no idea
where the money would come from
for day-to-day operations.
Slockett tells us the center would
not be built with local tax dollars.
The Brunswick County Board of
Education has been reluctant to take
a lead role in the project, in part, 1
think, because it fears being stuck
with a potentially very large tab, at
a time when it lacks the funds to
fully support and carry out its exist
ing programs and facilities.
Second, we could be re inventing
a good thing.
The University of North Caro
lina at Wilmington operates some
thing it calls a "Science and Math
Education Center." It recently an
nounced, in a Bruaswick Schools
employee newsletter, seven hands
on training opportunities for pub
lic and private sch<x>l teachers in
its service aiea Topics range from
Teaching Math with Manipu
lative s and Biology of the North
Carolina Coast to the latest class
room techniques of recombinant
DNA technology and how to
leach physics in the middle
schools using simple, teacher
Staff for the courses come from
across the region and beyond:
UNC-W, the New Hanover and
Onslow county school systems.
Southeastern Community College,
the state Community College sys
tem and Appalachian Slate Uni
Renewal credits and stipends
arc available. The classes for the
most part arc within commuting
distance for economy-minded
Brunswick County teachers.
If this UNC-W Center fulfills
many or all of the purposes of the
center proposed for Brunswick
County, we would be doing our
selves a disservice ? and taking an
unnecessary ego trip ? to attempt
to duplicate that effort unnccessai
Southeastern North Carolina has
too many other, pressing needs to
warrant two such facilities within
an hour's drive of each oilier.
Wouldn't it be better to explore
alternatives with that center? I'm
talking ways to involve more
Brunswick County educators in
courses; offering center programs
at county locations, perhaps in co
operation with Brunswick Com
munity College (which has of
fered classroom space); and then
involving Brunswick County busi
nesses and industries in support
ing those efforts.
A middle ground might involve
going ahead with Slockctt's original
idea of a smaller, county teacher ed
ucation center. Perhaps it could be
linked by computer and other types
of resource sharing with the UNC
We owe it to the people being
asked to support a regional math/
science/tcchnology education center
to find out more about the UNC-W
center and the possibilities it offers
for involvement and cooperation.