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You've heard the old saying "the best time to eat oysters is in months that have an 'R,'" but does that theory hold water?  This week on the Down East Journal, we talk to a marine scientist who developed a test that can be done by anyone to tell if oysters are safe to eat.  Plus, congressional districts could be redrawn for the second time in less than a decade.  We speak to an expert in North Carolina politics about the ruling and the state's strange history regarding congressional districts. And the Annual Beekeepers Conference takes place in New Bern later this month. 

Free download of Got a Lot from the CD Method to my Madness by Tommy Castro, currently featured on The Sound.  Find out more about the artist here.

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Feb 15, 2016

New Bern hosts beekeeper's spring conference

Feb 12, 2016
Google Images

The cold weather may have the honey-bees hibernating, but bee-keepers are on the move. The annual North Carolina bee-keepers conference is set for the last weekend in February in eastern North Carolina. Sarah Finch has more on the popularity of this buzzing hobby.

B.Fitzula/UNC

You may be thinking about oysters as a part of your romantic Valentine’s dinner.  They’re packed with trace minerals and vitamins A and D.  Something you hope they're not tainted by is bacteria.  The good news is now is one of the best times to consume this shellfish delicacy.

“The beginning of February is usually one of the coldest times and it’s usually when we see the lowest levels of bacteria.”

Attendance at North Carolina’s state parks set a new record in 2015. George Olsen has more.

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Feb 9, 2016

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SNAP Food Stamps require 20 hour work week

Feb 8, 2016
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Big changes are coming to the food stamp program in North Carolina. On July 1st a select group of recipients will have to meet work or classroom requirements in order to keep their grocery benefits. Sarah Finch has more on these new SNAP program regulations and how local communities are preparing to combat potential hunger pains.

This week on the Down East Journal, the Iowa caucus is over.  What could the results mean for North Carolina. Plus, it’s been nearly a week since the last grocery store in Oriental shuttered its doors.  More on how residents are dealing with the inconvenience.   And, big changes are coming to the food stamp program in North Carolina. A select group of recipients will now have to meet work or classroom requirements in order to keep their grocery benefits. More on the SNAP program regulations and how local communities are preparing to combat potential hunger pains.

    

News from the waterfront town of Oriental made national headlines when a Walmart Express closed its doors last week.  Reports focused on how the closure of chain stores can impact the economy of small towns.  The store closing came months after the longtime local grocer “Town n’ Country” was shuttered.  That leaves the town of 900 without a local grocery store or pharmacy. 

Since 1998, more than 100,000 people around the world have joined the four day Great Backyard Bird Count.  The annual event, held each February,  creates a snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.  Mac McKee spoke with Director of Land Bird Conservation at Audubon North Carolina Curtis Smalling about this year’s count. 

This week, voters in Iowa caucused for their preferred Presidential candidate, setting the tone for what could be a tight race on both sides.

North Carolina’s Democratic and Republican primaries for crucial federal and state positions, including President and Governor, is less than 40 days away.

Chris Thomas spoke with state pollsters and a local party official, who weighed in on how a caucus held more than 1,000 miles away could impact turnout and results here in North Carolina.

Camp Lejeune officials are urging fisherman to avoid crabbing and clamming in a section of the New River because of unexploded shells.  This week on the Down East Journal, how the military will address the safety risk and how commercial fishermen are impacted by the recommended limits. Plus, it’s conversation with a representative from a leading polling service to talk about where Presidential and Gubernatorial candidates stand in North Carolina.  The Down East Journal airs Friday at noon on all of the PRE stations, and Saturday at noon on News and Ideas. 

Winter is here, but that doesn't mean you have to stay cooped up indoors.  This week on the Down East Journal, we have some of the best places to explore nature in eastern North Carolina.  Plus, we profile a local artist who draws inspiration from the cold.  A look at the creative process of an ice sculptor. And a veteran and an award winning journalist is combining his experiences with an online news publication.

After a local grocery store and a Walmart Express closed in Oriental, free transportation service for residents without cars has been announced.  The ride service will begin February 3rd at 9:30 am and will take anyone in the Oriental area to grocery stores or pharmacies in the Bayboro/Grantsboro area.  Transportation is provided by Primetime Ministries Transportation Program at Oriental Methodist Church, volunteers and town Commissioner Allen Price.

Industrial hemp farming legalized in NC

Feb 1, 2016
North Carolina Industrial Hemp Association

In October, North Carolina lawmakers legalized industrial hemp.  Not to be confused with its sister plant marijuana, hemp has many uses for commercial products, which North Carolina farmers are excited about.  Sarah Finch has more on the state’s new hemp pilot program.

Hemp refers to a specific strain of Cannabis plants that are grown from a seed and can reach up to 15 feet tall. Although the word cannabis often brings to mind images of ‘smoking pot’ or ‘getting high’, hemp plants contain very little of the psychoactive chemical called THC.

A North Carolina based poll taken from likely voters primarily on land based phone lines and estimated 20 percent web based requests shows no clear leaders heading into the March 15th primary.  This week, Chris Thomas spoke with Jim Williams, a pollster with Public Policy's Polling office in Raleigh about who is favored in national and state races.

Additional quotes from this interview:

Camp Lejeune

Local waters around a training range in Onslow County may pose a threat to people attempting to harvest oysters, clams, crabs and fish.  Earlier this month, Camp Lejeune officials advised the public to avoid areas along the New River because of the possibility of unexploded munitions underwater.  While the military hasn’t officially restricted these waters, some commercial fishermen around Sneads Ferry are concerned it’s only a matter of time before they do. 

“People are scared around here, if you let them take that, they’re not going to stop with that.”

People who believe hiking is an activity done only in the mountains may be surprised to learn that eastern North Carolina boasts miles of scenic hiking trails.  From salt marshes and cypress swamps to longleaf pine forests and pocosins, hiking trails at the coast feature diverse ecosystems and allow hikers an up-close and uncrowded adventure. 

thewarhorse.org

Thomas Brennan is a veteran and an award winning journalist based in Richlands and he's looking to combine his experiences in both fields with an online news publication and interactive database called "The War Horse."

Chris Thomas spoke to Brennan about the project which, seeks, in part, to fill voids left by many news agencies.

CMT: What do you believe traditional media outlets, even those that are on the internet…what do you believe they’re lacking, as far as their coverage of military affairs and veterans affairs are concerned?

Michael Kowalski

The practice of transforming ice into something beautiful has been around for thousands of years and continues to dazzle today. Eastern North Carolina artist Michael ‘Ski’ Kowalski has carved his own niche into this impressive world of sculpting. Sarah Finch has more on Ski’s creative process and the magic of this fleeting art form.

INTRO – A Tarboro bakery operation has announced expansion plans, bringing 98 new jobs to the region. George Olsen has more.

Bite Me Enterprises

Gun shows are popular venues for quick gun purchases in Eastern North Carolina. But new, federal regulations could make the selling and purchasing of firearms more difficult for consumers and dealers.

Chris Thomas spoke to a local gun shop owner about how decisions made at the White House could affect commerce at gun shows.

Guns have been a part of Mike Lane’s life since he was a boy.

Tons of construction waste destined for the landfill is being re-purposed in northeastern North Carolina.  This week on the Down East Journal, we detail the Dare County project using pieces of the Bonner Bridge to build four artificial reefs near Oregon Inlet.  And, gun control returns to the spotlight after President Obama announced several executive orders related to firearm sales. We talk to a local gun shop owner and policy experts about how this may affect the state.  

Pamela Malec Landrum, Roanoke Island Outfitters and Dive Center

The only way you’ll be able to cross the Bonner Bridge a couple years from now is if you’re underwater.  The span is planned to be demolished in Fall of 2018 and the construction debris will be used to enhance four artificial reefs near Oregon Inlet.  Today on the Down East Journal, how the Dare County project will benefit the environment and the economy.

Known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, our coastline is littered with hundreds of shipwrecks that serve as habitat for fish and invertebrates, like sponges and soft corals.  It’s what makes North Carolina a diving destination.

Nine new members of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame have been announced. George Olsen has more.

Sarah Finch

Construction broke ground in December in Kinston on a new art installation celebrating the rich tradition of tobacco farming in the state.  World renowned sculptor Thomas Sayre has designed a seven-piece sculpture that spans an entire city block. Sarah Finch brings us an update on this unique project.

This week on the Down East Journal, we report on the proposed timeline for coal ash removal at the H.F. Lee plant in Goldsboro.  We speak with NC Division of Environmental Quality’s Assistant Secretary for the Environment Tom Reeder.   Plus, we explore how the strong El Nino has affected and may affect the region.  The Down East Journal airs Friday at noon on all of the PRE stations, and Saturday at noon on News and Ideas.  

NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

Eastern North Carolina has a rich military history spanning from colonial days to the present.  The Military Collection of the State Archives of North Carolina seeks to preserve the State's military heritage by collecting documents and records, and make them accessible to the public.  Mac McKee speaks with Department of Natural and Cultural Resources military collection archivist Matthew Peek about how citizens can be a part of this project.

NC Department of Environmental Quality

It’s been almost two years since 39,000 tons of Duke Energy’s coal ash waste product spilled into the Dan River, creating an environmental disaster.  Since that incident, North Carolina worked on a plan to close coal ash basins across the state.  The next step in the process determines which impoundments pose the greatest risk to public health and the environment.  On the last day of 2015, the Department of Environmental Quality released their Draft Proposed Impoundment Classification report, as required by the Coal Ash Management Act of 2014.  Assistant Secretary for the Environment Tom

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