On the monthly "Carolina Skies" segment, we talk about what you can spot in eastern North Carolina's night sky, from constellations and planets to nebulas and galaxies.  Our host is Byron Mumaw, President of the Carolina Skies Astronomy Club.  This week, we focus on the fourth planet from the sun, Mars. 


Commuting on Highway 70 could be a bit quicker now that the Goldsboro Bypass is open.

The saltmarsh sparrow could soon become a lot harder to find along the eastern North Carolina shoreline.  Scientists say the species could be headed for extinction in the next 50 years. 

Researchers at several universities along the East Coast have been tracking saltmarsh sparrow populations and say they’ve dropped about nine percent annually since 1998.  Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon Maryland/DC was involved with the study and says habitat loss due to coastal development and sea-level rise are the main factors contributing to their rapid decline.

Coastal researchers in Beaufort are developing a tool that can alert officials when sharks get too close.  Jared Brumbaugh has more on how drones could be used to spot sharks swimming near popular beach spots. 

Assistant Professor of the Practice of Marine Conservation and Ecology at Duke University Dave Johnston is currently using fixed wing and quad copter drones to study bonnethead sharks to better understand their role in the ecosystem. 

“We fly over these coastal waters, the drones collect imagery, and we’re able to bring that back into the lab.”

Beyond Binary: Unaffiliated Voters Growing in Numbers

May 31, 2016

One of the fastest growing demographics in eastern North Carolina is also one of its least defined. Since the turn of the 21st Century, the state has witnessed a dramatic uptick in unaffiliated voters.

They’re threatening to break the 2 million mark by the November election, but just how independent are “independent voters?”

Chris Thomas has more.

Aerial Mosquito Spraying Linked To Autism

May 23, 2016
University of California - Riverside

Mosquitos and similar pests are a major source of concern around the world, especially marshy areas like eastern North Carolina. These organisms can leave painful bite marks and harmful diseases, including yellow fever and the Zika virus.

But a recent study discovered a possible link between certain pesticides, the way they’re administered, and developmental delays in children.

Chris Thomas has this report.

If 2015 was the "summer of the shark" in eastern North Carolina, what about 2016?  A series of rare shark attacks along the North Carolina coast last summer may make you reticent to take a dip.  This week on the Down East Journal, we dispel shark myths with local researchers who study them.  Plus, it's mosquito season and with it, new fears of Zika.  But a new study links pesticides to autism.  We speak to the pediatrician who lead the study.  And, we tell you what's on tap for the Beaufort Music Festival this weekend.

This week on the Down East journal, tugboats and firetrucks.  Last week, tugboats were intentionally sunk near Beaufort Inlet.  We talk about why.  And, we visit the recently renovated circa 1928 Firemen's Museum in New Bern. 

You could soon pay a late fee if you’re tardy in renewing your vehicle registration. George Olsen has more.

Wayne Hoggard, NOAA NMFS SEFSC / Image ID: fish2730, NOAA's Fisheries Collection

Last summer, a string of eight shark attacks along the North Carolina coast made headlines across the nation.  A Camp Lejeune Marine bitten in the arm and right hand, and another man in his 60’s airlifted to Greenville for multiple bites to his rib cage, hips, lower leg and both hands.  Back-to-back unprovoked attacks on Oak Island severely injured a 12 year old girl, and then 90 minutes later, a 16 year-old boy on the same stretch of beach.

This week on the Down East Journal, tugboats and fire trucks.  Last week, two tugboats were intentionally sunk off Beaufort Inlet.  We talk about why.  And, we visit the recently renovated circa 1928 Firemen's Museum in New Bern.


On the monthly "Carolina Skies" segment, we talk about what you can spot in eastern North Carolina's night sky, from constellations and planets to nebulas and galaxies.  Our host is Byron Mumaw, President of the Carolina Skies Astronomy Club.  This week, we focus on the constellation Leo.

Jay Mead, Discovery Diving

 On May 6th, two tug boats were sunk about 10 nautical miles off the North Carolina coast at the site of an existing artificial reef.  The vessels now rest in about 63 feet of water and are already attracting divers and marine life.  Mac McKee speaks with President of the Eastern Carolina Artificial Reef Association Debby Boyce about the project and how it benefits the environment and aquatic ecosystem.

As you stroll through the streets of downtown New Bern, you may have been drawn to an intriguing two-story brick building with the city’s mascot above the balcony.  Below, four huge white doors and a sign with bold red letters that say “New Bern Fire Department.”

The 88 year old building is now the home of the New Bern Firemen’s Museum which recently moved from around the corner on Hancock Street, a plan years in the making.

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

A coastal researcher from the Crystal Coast was recently honored for his work on developing and improving ways to count fish populations.        

State archaeologists now have more detailed sonar images to study of the Civil War blockade runner Agnes E. Fry. George Olsen has more.

Veterans Today

One of the hardest jobs veterans have in Eastern North Carolina is – finding a job.  Hundreds of thousands of Veterans in the state still couldn’t find jobs in 2015, though the unemployment rate fell sharply from the previous year.Government and private sector initiatives have been established to solve the unemployment problem among the veteran population with some success. But as Chris Thomas reports, hiring men and women who served the nation in combat is still a hard sell.

This week on the Down East Journal, what North Carolina is doing to retain service members after they transition out of the military.  We speak with locals about the struggles, triumphs, and opportunities veterans face entering the private sector. Plus, we reveal the long history of an Oriental landmark turning 70 this year.  And, the North Carolina Symphony is performing their "April In Paris" concert in downtown New Bern on Sunday.

Contributed Photo

 On the corner of Broad and Church Streets in Oriental stands a venue for the performing arts and entertainment.  In the days of Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, it was known as the Mart.  Today, we call it the Old Theater.  On May 13-14th, there was a celebration of the landmark’s 70th anniversary with live music and old timers reminiscing about the theater’s varied history. 

In the ever constant tug of war between development and environmental concerns on North Carolina’s Outer Banks both sides could almost certainly agree that no matter the state of things now they’re certainly better than one vision for the area around 1950.

   (Reads from NC 12: Gateway to the Outer Banks)

This week on the Down East Journal, a school house for African American children on the Outer Banks once facing demolition may now become a museum and store, paying tribute to the community's past. We talk to the new building owner about future plans to renovate a Rosenwald School in Currituck County.  Plus, it was a loud, fierce competition as high school student teams from across the country faced off in Morehead City for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl.


The NC 11 bridge over Buckskin Swamp and Grove Creek in Kenansville will be shut down for more than a week as crews make the span safe again.  Both north and southbound lanes are closed to all traffic as North Carolina Department of Transportation crews repair the bridge’s substructure which was damaged by recent rain events.  Communications Officer for Divisions 2 and 3 Brian Rick says they noticed the problem during a biannual inspection.

Former Schoolhouse In Currituck County Gets Second Chance

Apr 29, 2016
My Outer Banks Home Magazine

Nearly 100 years ago, residents of Currituck County rallied to build a school for the underserved African-American population. Recently, residents of the same community chose to save the dilapidated structure from destruction.  Chris Thomas reports.

How do you make the best out of a bad situation?

In the old Coinjock Colored School’s case, the answer seems to be “move it about a mile down the road.”

“Man, let me tell ya, you want to talk about remarkable engineering and some really, really, fascinating things to see."

Scott Taylor Photography, Inc

  What is a typical rate of upwelling in eastern boundary current regions in meters per day?  

That’s just an example of the types of questions high school teams had to answer at this year’s National Ocean Sciences Bowl held at the Crystal Coast.  

Attorney General Roy Cooper filed a lawsuit Tuesday against leaders of a Kinston charter school over the mishandling of public funds.  The complaint filed in Wake County Superior Court alleges CEO Ozie Hall, and the Chair of its Board Demyra McDonald-Hall falsely inflated the number of students Kinston Charter Academy would enroll so they could get more tax dollars, even though they knew the school would not be able to stay open for the 2013-2014 term.

Wolf Haven International

Federal and state officials are asking for assistance in the investigation of a red wolf death last fall.  A federally-protected red wolf was found dead Nov. 12 in Hyde County. Based on the condition of the body and other evidence, the actual date of death is estimated to be Oct. 31. The necropsy results recently received indicate the cause of death was gunshot. Anyone with information is being asked to contact the U.S.

Free download of It's Political from the CD War & Peace by Shannon Labrie, currently featured on The Sound.  Find out more about the artist here.

Millions of dollars in economic loss are being attributed to House Bill 2.  This week on the Down East Journal, we explore potential losses for eastern North Carolina.  Plus, the local five sided beach treasure Fort Macon hosts the North Carolina State Park Centennial Celebration at the Crystal Coast this weekend.  And, the New York Theatre Ballet gives a free performance in Edgecombe County next Thursday.  The innovative chamber ballet company performs classical and contemporary dance as well as a premiere of a new dance in celebration of Tarboro native Hobson Pittman's paintings.

Friends of Fort Macon

As the sentinel of Beaufort Inlet and protector of the Crystal Coast, Fort Macon has stood weathering storms on the southern Outer Banks for nearly 200 years.  Since then, the five sided fortress has been converted into a popular state park and now draws more than a million people from around the world each year. Superintendent at Fort Macon State Park Randy Newman.

ENC Split Over HB2 as Tourism Season Begins

Apr 22, 2016
Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina

It's been nearly a month since House Bill 2 became law, but economic, political and social fallout continues.  Demonstrations for and against the law- from prayer rallies to boycotts- have created a thick cloud of controversy and anxiety, but it also raises questions.  Among them - how has House Bill 2 affected lives in eastern North Carolina?  How have local communities responded to it?  Chris Thomas seeks answers to those questions in this report.