Wind Energy's Future in NC up in the Air

Jul 26, 2016
Avangrid Renewables

Last weekend, the skyline in Pasquotank County changed dramatically when builders hoisted a nearly 500 foot wind turbine in a corn field.  More than 100 just like it, part of the Amazon Wind Farm U.S. East project, will make up the first wind energy farm in the state.


This week on the Down East Journal, we detail the state’s first ever wind farm currently under construction near Elizabeth City.  The project has drawn criticism from some who are proposing legislation aimed at limiting future construction elsewhere in the region. We speak to local environmentalists and state representatives on the future of wind farms in eastern North Carolina.  And, 29 eastern North Carolina Arts Councils are seeking applications for regional artists grants of up to $1,000 in financial support for art projects.

INTRO – North Carolinians are enjoying the lowest July gas prices in 12 years. George Olsen has more.

Thousands of dead fish have washed up on the banks of the Neuse River, near Flanners Beach.  Scientists believe the fish kill could get worse before it gets better.  Jared Brumbaugh has more. 

ENC Residents fought, died for Union in Civil War

Jul 18, 2016
North Carolina Union Volunteers

Thousands of men from North Carolina enlisted to fight in the Civil War, many them for the Confederacy, but some – including 1,300, white, eastern North Carolinians – went against their state’s government and fought for the Union Army. They were later joined by nearly 1,100 black men from region.  

Those decisions pit brother against brother and for some, it resulted in paying the ultimate price – on the battle field and the gallows.

Tryon Palace

Dancing, singing, and drumming.  Jonkonnu is a long celebrated African American tradition.  It’s roots can be traced back to the 1800’s in Jamaica and to the people of West Africa.  This cultural practice is being preserved and taught this summer at Tryon Palace with free workshops every Tuesday, now through Aug. 5th.  The workshops culminate with a public student performance of Jonkonnu Friday, Aug. 9, at 2 p.m.  Jared Brumbaugh has this audio postcard.

Local towns along the coast are stepping up efforts to make beaches safer and more accessible.  Atlantic Beach is rolling out plastic walkways each morning to provide a stable surface for wheelchairs.  Emerald Isle is focusing on reducing the number of drownings with the installation of over 100 flotation devices along the surf.

Good news for gardeners in the Pitt County area. George Olsen has more.

This week on the Down East Journal, ECU's School of Music celebrates the 20th anniversary of it's guitar festival, four days of concerts and workshops that attract students and experts from across the nation.  We speak to organizers and participants about the Greenville festival's growth and vision.  Plus, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is seeking input from local hunters on white-tailed deer management in a statewide survey.  And, a new art exhibit called "Summertime" opens at the Crystal Coast.

Melissa McGaw, NCWRC

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is calling on hunters to help out with a statewide deer hunting survey to help improve deer management.  The current study expounds on another conducted in 2006 with 10,000 hunters.  Officials hope to reach over 220,000 this time.

ECU Celebrates 20th Guitar Festival

Jul 11, 2016
Joe Pellegrino / The Daily Reflector

ECU's Summer Guitar Festival was held July 6th through the 9th in Greenville with four days of concerts and workshops.  The event attracts students and experts from across the nation.   Chris Thomas has more on the festival's growth over the past 20 years and the vision for the future.

This is how things started Wednesday morning – the first day of this year’s ECU Guitar Festival. Back in 1996 just 12 people checked in for the first one. This year, 53 people registered for classes and gradually wandered into the lobby of the A.J. Fletcher School of Music.

Zika Taskforce Surveys State Mosquito Population

Jul 5, 2016
University of Florida

In response to the Zika outbreak, and any threat it may pose to North Carolinians, a statewide co-op of researchers, pest control specialists, and doctors are studying local mosquito populations – specifically, carriers of the headline grabbing virus.

The study is in its early stages, but as Chris Thomas reports, participants – and the state as a whole – may have gone into it with a hand tied behind their back.  

This week on the Down East Journal, we speak to an East Carolina University entomologist about a statewide study on mosquitoes and the Zika virus.  We detail the newly created Zika Task Force, its goals, and obstacles.  Plus, the annual sea turtle survey is underway at the coast this summer.  It’s the first time they’re using drones to count sea turtle populations at Cape Lookout Bight.  And, it's music and conversation with Jennifer Licko about her latest CD, "Sing."

Duke Marine Lab UAS

A team of researchers are conducting their annual sea turtle survey at the coast this summer.  But this year, they have a new tool to give them a bird's eye view.  Drones equipped with cameras fly over the water and capture images of sea turtles from above.

Sing - Jennifer Licko

Jun 30, 2016

INTRO – A new CD by ENC native Jennifer Licko took a long, circuitous and electronic path toward final production. George Olsen has more.

“It was a really nice collaboration of an Irish producer in Minnesota, an English producer in Florida and a Brazilian producer here in Brazil and I think it made for an interesting outcome.”   

Beyond Binary: Living a Secular Life in the Bible Belt

Jun 27, 2016
Getty/Dimitri Otis

Now we continue our series “Beyond Binary” which explores the changing demographics of our area.

Eastern North Carolina is among the key notches on the “Bible Belt.” Houses of worship can be found on the most remote country roads and it isn’t uncommon to see their lots filled to the brim at least twice-a-week.

But as Chris Thomas reports, secularism’s reemergence in America hasn’t exempted eastern North Carolina.

Public input is being sought on transportation projects planned in and around New Bern.  Jared Brumbaugh has more on the meeting set for Wednesday, June 29th. 

The largest project, carried over from last year, would upgrade U.S. 70 in James City to interstate standards, and include intersection improvements to Taberna Way, Thurman Road, Stately Pines Road and Fisher Ave.  The meeting will also include details on a new roundabout where Broad Street, Neuse Boulevard and Martin Luther King converge. 

National Park Service, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

The mystery of what exactly happened to the Lost Colony is still unknown, but archeologist are uncovering clues as to what life was like for colonist who were a part of the first English settlement attempt in the New World.  Earlier this month, archeologists discovered several pottery shards on Roanoke Island, near Fort Raleigh, dating back to the 16th century.  

This week on the Down East Journal, we speak to an archeologist with the First Colony Foundation about rare 16th century pottery pieces recently found on Roanoke Island, near the first settlement in the New World.  And, our "Beyond Binary" series continues.  We speak to a regional native who is part of a national trend opting for a life without organized religion. The Down East Journal, Friday at noon on all of the PRE stations, and Saturday at noon on News and Ideas. 

A section of U.S. 264 in Beaufort County will be closed for the next six months as a bridge replacement project gets underway.  Jared Brumbaugh has more. 

The new span will replace the current bridge over Pantego Creek constructed in 1950 that is functionally obsolete and structurally deficient.  The project started last week and workers are installing new water and sewer infrastructure at the site now.  In the coming weeks, Resident Engineer for the State Department of Transportation Cadmus Capehart says demolition of the existing bridge will begin.

The Sampson Independant

Every third Saturday of June, the National Hollerin' Contest takes place in Spivey's Corner.  But this past Saturday's competition is probably the last time hoots and hollers are heard in this crossroads community.  Organizers say the event has been suspended because of increasing cost and decreasing participation.  But Jared Brumbaugh was there when the Hollerin' Contest was well attended and in this feature, we look back at the nearly 50 year old tradition.

What's it like to hold something older than the Parthenon in the palm of your hand? You'll find out this week on the Down East Journal when we speak to an ECU anthropologist who did just that after millennia-old, stone points were discovered in the state.  And, we say farewell to a nearly 50 year old tradition.  The National Hollerin’ Contest in Sampson County is coming to an end.  Plus, it's your opportunity to go behind the scenes at Tryon Palace.

ECU Archaeologist Weighs in on Finding Prehistoric Points

Jun 20, 2016
Lori Gross via the Charlotte Observer

Around the time the Pyramids at Giza were finished, Stonehenge was consecrated, and bronze was the next big thing in Europe and Asia, nomads living on the western hemisphere, about 300 miles west of the Atlantic Ocean, made stone points and buried them in the ground – probably for later use.

5,000 to 6,000 years, in what’s now known as New London, North Carolina near the Stanly and Montgomery County line – those points were rediscovered in Leonard and Karen Shelor’s backyard.

NC Maritime Museum Southport

A new exhibit opened last week at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Southport.  “Along the Colonial Cape Fear” documents the history of southeastern North Carolina from its vast supply of naval stores, shipping operations from the port in Wilmington and rice cultivation in the 1700s.


On this edition of the Down East Journal, Public Radio East contributes to a new permanent exhibit on display at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Southport detailing the history of the lower Cape Fear region. We'll look at the exhibit and as well as rice cultivation in southeastern North Carolina. Also, our Beyond Binary series on underrepresented people in eastern North Carolina who fall outside traditional socio-political distinctions continues. And, author Dawson Carr and his book "NC-12: Gateway to the Outer Banks."

Zazzle (Trans Flag Gifts)

House Bill 2 has brought seldom discussed matters – especially rural parts of the nation like Eastern North Carolina – to the forefront. Namely, sexuality and gender identity.

For our “Beyond Binaries” series, Chris Thomas speaks to locals residents who find themselves outside of traditional, socio-economic demographics.

Sexuality and gender identity is getting confusing. New labels, definitions, and even pronouns seem to emerge daily.

Candidates, party leaders discuss June 7 Primary

Jun 9, 2016
North Carolina General Assembly

Most primaries for the 2016 election, took place nearly three months ago, but true to the election’s unorthodox form, primaries for U.S. House – among others – were delayed due to a change in congressional district maps.

It gave campaign staffers, and their candidates, extra time to get the word out and make their case for their respective offices.

Chris Thomas spoke to candidates and party leaders in the new, 3rd District – which includes Lenoir, Onslow, and Craven counties – about the June 7 primary.

Eastern North Carolina has its own flavor.  This week on the Down East Journal, we visit some popular – local – ‘cue destinations.   And, heading into June 7th, a primer on the primary.

This week on the Down East Journal, we begin our "Beyond Binary" series on underrepresented people segments in Eastern North Carolina who fall outside traditional socio-political distinctions.  Unaffiliated voters are a rapidly growing demographic in eastern North Carolina and, potentially, a key factor in this year's national and state races. And, as the first piling of the Bonner Bridge was installed, NCDOT got the green light to move forward with another bridge replacement .  We detail the NC12 bridge project just down the road at Rodanthe.

When you think of things that define eastern North Carolina, you may say our Civil War history or uncrowded beaches.  But nothing is more distinctive than our own flavor of barbecue.  Really, it’s all about the sauce.  The western part of the state often touts their tomato based concoction.  But here in eastern North Carolina, it’s the tangy, spicy vinegar based sauce is instantly recognized as our spin on barbecue.