Minor League Baseball is back in eastern North Carolina as opening day for the new Down East Wood Ducks is less than two months away. This week on the Down East Journal, the historical impact of baseball from the City of Kinston and new hopes for success after a six season drought without a team to call its own. Also, proposed shrimp trawling limits move forward at the coast.  And, we talk about a statewide mammal survey already underway in eastern North Carolina. 

The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission voted February 16th to grant a petition for rulemaking and began drafting rules to implement it. If adopted, the rules will limit shrimp trawling in most North Carolina waters.

North Carolina Coastal Federation

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries in partnership with the North Carolina Coastal Federation will construct a 15-acre oyster reef near the Pamlico Sound.  The restoration project is part of a goal to restore 50 million oysters in North Carolina waters by 2020. 

NC Candid Critter Project

Spring is just around the corner. Since the warmer temperatures in eastern North Carolina cause bears, foxes, deer and other mammals to become more active, now is the perfect time to take part in a massive camera trapping project to help uncover the secrets of local wildlife.  Public Radio East's Mac McKee speaks with Biologist with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and NC State University Roland Kays about the statewide project, the largest ever mammal survey of its kind.

Kinston Prepares for New Baseball Team

Feb 27, 2017

On April 3, the Down East Wood Ducks will host Mount Olive College in their first exhibition game in their new home: Grainger Stadium. The 68-year-old venue has been a mainstay in Kinston’s culture and will house its first professional franchise since the Indians left following the 2011 season.  It will be the continuation of a long time tradition after a relatively brief interruption.  Chris Thomas has more. 

For 6 years – this was the sound at Grainger Stadium.

Outside of a few other amateur games and non-sporting events, it stood silent and unoccupied.

This week on the Down East Journal, we speak to Goldsboro based historians investigating an obscure but important aspect of the region’s history – former slaves who fought for freedom.  And, a preview of what’s in store for season 14 of the Carolina Chamber Music Festival in New Bern.  

Over 70 local commercial watermen were involved in a project to help remove fishing gear from North Carolina coastal waters.  A fleet of boats collected more than 4-thousand two hundred crab pots during the one and a half week project.  Jared Brumbaugh has more. 

Local Historians Reintroduce Region to Civil War Regiment

Feb 20, 2017
Dickinson College

Black regiments in the Civil War are still a relatively obscure aspect of American History. Though many didn’t battle, these units were vital in keeping the union intact.

A group of residents based in Goldsboro have rediscovered one of those regiments – the 135th U.S. Colored Troops.

It’s a Valentine’s edition of Down East Journal this week.  Did you know North Carolina is in the top ten best states for lovers?  Plus, it’s Singing Valentines with the Southern Gentlemen Barbershop Chorus.  And, we speak to North Carolina based Burke Uzzle about his 50+ year career as a photographer, including his latest work: "Perceptions and Recognitions" - photographs of local, African-American residents. 

E. Woodward/ UNC Institute of Marine Sciences.

Next week, there’s a networking event happening at the coast bringing together marine and environmental scientists and teachers.  In its fifth year, SCiREN - an acronym for Scientific Research and Education Network- is aimed at building a relationship between coastal scientists and local teachers.  Kindergarten through 12th grade teachers who attend the workshop can receive free lesson plans based on North Carolina standards – and focused on local research happening at our coast.

Janet Kagan

Next week is Valentine’s Day but February is dedicated to Black History Month which recognizes the contributions of the black community in shaping this country and the world. The Greenville Museum of Art has an exhibit on display “Perceptions and Recognitions” which highlights African-Americans from eastern North Carolina and their personal stories. The museum commissioned world renowned photographer and eastern North Carolina native, Burk Uzzle for the exhibit.

Whales and other marine mammals are believed to be impacted by seismic testing.  But what about fish?  This week on the Down East Journal, we speak to a local researcher who recently published the first study ever documenting how fish behave before and during seismic testing.  Plus, individuals struggling with sickle cell disease may be on the cusp of a breakthrough after an international drug trail ended last year.  One of the most active test areas was eastern North Carolina.  And, what to expect at the Antique Show and Sale next weekend in New Bern. 

Marine Corp Air Station Cherry Point contractors will be removing old munition-related debris from a former bombing range in Bogue Sound later this month.  Jared Brumbaugh has more. 

Sickle Cell Treatment Has Breakthrough

Feb 6, 2017
Hertz Nazaire / Kreyolicious

Individuals struggling with Sickle Cell Disease may be on the cusp of a breakthrough after an international, year-long drug trial ended last year.

One of the most active test areas was in eastern North Carolina and one of its participants was Majara Mooring of Greenville.

She, like millions around the globe, live with a disease that causes hidden, though intense pain.

“Because it can be to the point where I can’t walk and one time I just told myself ‘look, just cut my limb off. I will feel better if you just cut it off, the pain will go away.”

J. McCord / UNC-CSI

Seismic testing, a controversial method used to map the ocean floor, has been shown to impact to marine mammals.  But how does it effect fish?  Some local scientist set out to discover how fish react to testing.

More than three months after Hurricane Matthew, residents in Lenoir County are still displaced from their homes.  This week on the Down East Journal, we go to Kinston where local nonprofits teamed up  to help flood victims.  And, we explain what could be causing an increase in the number of whale strandings along our coast.

Recovery is underway in Lenoir County.  Some residents impacted by record flooding are starting to move into new homes, while others are still displaced.

Uptick in Beached Whale Strandings

Jan 30, 2017
Karen Clark / The Virginia-Pilot

Beached whale sightings in North Carolina have been on the rise over the past decade – the most recent being in September with a rare, Cuvier’s beaked whale that washed ashore in Nags Head.

Chris Thomas has more possible causes for the increased number of strandings along our coast.

North Carolina is home to 8 kinds of whale, including humpback, pilot, and blue – many of which are endangered.

The number of reportable acts of school crime decreased in the 2015-2016 school year. George Olsen has more.

The state Department of Public Instruction reports the public school dropout rate improved in the 2015-2016 school year. George Olsen has more.

Commercial fishermen gathered in New Bern recently to speak out against a proposal put forward by the North Carolina Wildlife Foundation that would close much of North Carolina's waters to shrimp trawling.

This week on the Down East Journal, we speak with commercial fishermen and conservationist at odds over a petition that would change the way commercial shrimp trawling takes place along our coast. Plus, Pitt County Emergency Services is launching a pilot program meant to prevent ER visits and bolster health and wellness in one of its most underserved areas.  And, we speak with the Artistic Director for the American Music Festival about the next performance, which pays homage to cellist Pablo Casals. 

Pitt County to Start Community Paramedic Program This Year

Jan 23, 2017
Pitt County Government

Pitt County’s rural north end – including Pactolus, Belhaven, Belvoir, and Bethel – is an especially vulnerable spot for residents, especially in times of need. The area is underserved from a health and wellness standpoint and chronic patients are prone to repeated visits to the ER.  A pilot, community paramedic program from the county’s emergency services department hopes to confront and reduce that problem at the source and it’s scheduled to serve about 20,000 people.  It’s a nationwide trend that started picking up steam over the past decade.

A state agency is encouraging home owners to test this month for radon gas. George Olsen has more.

The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame has announced its 2017 inductees. George Olsen has more.

UNC Institute of Marine Sciences

A large scale sea grass study, the first of its kind, is underway at the coast.  Artificial seagrass meadows will be built in Back Sound this spring to observe how fragmenting affects fish colonization. 

This week on the Down East Journal, NCDOT's 10-year transportation plan lists more than 1,400 infrastructure projects across the state. We focus on major highway improvements in eastern North Carolina and the impact they may have for the region's commuters and visitors.  Plus, a large scale sea grass study – the first of its kind - is underway at the coast.  And, the Craven Literacy Council is holding a tutor training workshop for people who want to help adults improve their literacy skills.

This week on the Down East Journal, local governments are preparing to craft their budgets for the next fiscal year.  We focus on Pitt County's capital improvement plans.  And, it's chamber music in Greenville as East Carolina University holds their winter workshop concerts.

STIP Features Major Plans for ENC

Jan 18, 2017
City of Greenville, NC

More than 1,400 projects are part of the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s 10-year State Transportation Improvement Plan. More than 250 of those projects directly impact communities in eastern North Carolina. Some projects are more controversial than others.

Chris Thomas has this.  

Last week, NCDOT released its latest strategy for improving the state’s roads, ports, airports, railways, and bicycle lanes – also known as the STIP. The primary theme in the east: safety and connectivity.  

Community Gym featured in Pitt County CIP

Jan 10, 2017
WITN/Gray Communications System

With the start of a new calendar year, local governments in North Carolina are preparing for their budget workshops – sifting through millions of dollars in tax payer money and public institutional needs ahead of the statewide, July 1 deadline.

A major feature of many local budgets are CIPs – Capital Improvement Plans – which focus on building and equipment needs for individual departments.