Category Archives: BUSINESS

Beekeeper busy, as bees begin buzzing!

Honeybees often travel long distances to feast on a variety of flowering plants, like this tulip poplar.

A former furniture maker, Terry Weaver cranks out his own hives.

MERRITT – Eastbound motorists on Hwy. 55 are all familiar with the small red-and-white ‘Bees For Sale’ sign that pops up this time of year. Once again, Terry Weaver of TJ’s Bee Farm is ready to give Mother Nature an assist.

Weaver, in a fairly short period of time, has become a major player in the beekeeping industry. Originally from Maryland, where “I made antique replicas for a very fine furniture company,” Weaver found himself in eastern North Carolina “because I like to fish.”

While running an offshore commercial fishing vessel, “I got caught in some bad storms,” and with increasing fuel prices and regulations, Weaver began to look around for other options.

His furniture skills came in handy during a stint at New Bern-based Hatteras Yachts, but some experience raising bees back in Maryland seemed right for him in this new neck of the woods.

Many hives are painted in pastels to mimic the color of flowers.

“People get bored, they get stagnant. Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life,” said Weaver.

In addition to the 50 or so hives that he supervises – just a stone’s throw from the highway – Weaver has at least three other sites nestled away in obscure corners of Pamlico County. He sells honey year-round at the New Bern Farmers Market, noting that other purveyors are usually content to sell all of their stock as quickly as possible.

“Usually, 80 percent of honey is put up between the first of April and the first of July,” said Weaver. “They (bees) love Tulip Poplars. This time of year those trees are loaded with nectar, and are heavy-duty bee friendly.”

Beeman Blvd. doubles as Weaver’s driveway.

During a brief interview, Weaver expounded at great length upon the mating habits of bees – and in particular the crucial role of the Queen Bee – of which there is only one per hive!! He said feral hives – typically found in the hollows of trees – have almost become extinct due to proliferation of the Varroa mite, “a blood-sucking thing the size of a pinhead.”

Beekeepers like Weaver use a variety of methods to keep the mite under control “but you cannot eradicate it,” which means wild colonies have become few and far between.

Again, Weaver’s furniture crafting skills are proving helpful. He makes all of the farm’s hives, and paints them bright colors “because bees go toward flowers and other colorful things.”

During a quick tour, Weaver – who sports a mane of thick gray hair – shook, dodged, and waved when several of the flying critters headed in his direction. “That’s because most of their natural enemies have hair and fur,” chuckled Weaver.

Want to know more? Call Terry Weaver at (252) 249-6170.

Micro-brewers get green light!

ORIENTAL – Frank and Lili Bacon are all smiles Tuesday night, shortly before elected officials gave them an OK to proceed with a Tap Room and Craft Microbrewery, planned for the lower floor of a two-story office building on Broad Street. Although other hurdles loom — including state and federal permits — the hard-working couple said they remain committed to the venture.

Aurora officials ‘accept’ economic recommendations

But failure to ‘adopt’ plan concerns many town residents

Lavonde Hardy and her daughter Maria attended the Monday night meeting

AURORA – Monday night, a huge turnout for a meeting of the Aurora Town Board signaled growing impatience among citizens over the economic plight of this small Beaufort County town.

Their frustration came through loud and clear from a young mother, Lavonde Hardy.

“We need a grocery store,” pleaded Hardy, while holding her one-year-old daughter Maria. “How can we call ourselves a town without a grocery store? Right now, with the closest grocery store 20 miles away, I can’t even buy what I need for my daughter. It would generate jobs. It would generate income.”

Hardy’s comments followed a presentation by Chuck Halsall, with the North Carolina Department of Commerce, who submitted an ambitious “Economic Development Implementation Plan” for the town.
Elected officials voted unanimously to ‘accept’ the plan, but avoided the opportunity to fully ‘adopt’ its recommendations.

For more details, please see a thorough report on Page B-6, written by Eve Hemby, who represents People for a Better Aurora – a volunteer advisory group, which seeks to identify solutions to enhance growth and long-term prosperity for the community.

$1.3 Million Grant to Transform New Bern’s Gateway

City of New Bern

The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced last week it is awarding the City of New Bern and Craven Community College a nearly $1.3 million grant to transform one of the gateways into New Bern. The grant will be used to modify the City’s old electric generation plant and warehouse in the 200 block of First Street into a regional workforce development and training center.

The City and Craven Community College were co-applicants on the grant, which was submitted to EDA in August 2016. The Eastern Carolina Council assisted in the grant application.
Renovations to the 4.6-acre site will include creation of a workforce development training center, which is proposed to be leased to the college for hosting classes, hands-on training, and skilled trades certifications. A makerspace in a separate building will provide startup space for entrepreneurs. Students will be able to receive training and certifications in trades such as small engine repair, manufacturing, and food service. Entrepreneurs will have space to design and create products and sell them to the public.

In a press release posted to the EDA’s website last week, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Jay Williams said “today’s investments will help strengthen North Carolina’s economy by … allowing entrepreneurial companies to grow and providing workers with the skills they need to succeed.”

Conditions of the grant stipulate that construction must begin within 12 months of the funding award and last no more than 24 months. Before renovations begin, additional administrative work must be completed. First, the City and Craven Community College must formally accept the grant award with approval from their respective boards. Then, the City and Craven Community College must finalize details of the lease agreement. The Craven County Board of Commissioners must then approve the operational funding for the workforce development center. Finally, all necessary building permits must be approved and obtained from the City’s Development Services Department. Once this administrative work is complete, renovations and site work should begin in the spring.

According to its website, the EDA’s mission is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. EDA implements this mission by making strategic investments in the nation’s most economically distressed communities that encourage private sector collaboration and creation of higher-skill, higher wage jobs.

A day in the life of a private investigator!

Once a month, we take a look at weird, offbeat ways to earn a living!

By Miki Knutson

EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA — I am sure everyone watches television and thinks the life of a Private Investigator must be one of the most exciting jobs. I admit it is rarely ‘typical.’ I personally get excited about my job when new situations pop up or cases puzzle and challenge me. The schedule for the day varies on the type of case you are dealing with. Early mornings, hot afternoons, late nights, weekends, and holidays are often required. Not the type of schedule everyone is willing to commit to, but one that is required to obtain the information needed.

One case might require hours of staring at a computer screen doing research. Another case could involve endless hours in a vehicle, staring at the same subject, documenting their whereabouts, with little or no breaks, in the hot or cold of the season, simply waiting for a specific event or action to occur. Bathroom breaks can be troublesome, especially for a female. Naps are not allowed unless you want to lose your subject and find yourself in the same situation the next day or even the day after that. For example, I was hired to surveill a possible cheating spouse. The day, or exact hour of the infidelity, is unknown requiring long, monotonous days of following one individual to and from home day after day. Fortunately, the individual had to work too, so I knew — at least during certain time — he wasn’t going anywhere for a while!

Being a female in this line of work has its advantages. Most people do not expect a female in the field, allowing allows me to obtain information more readily in some cases. It helps to be able to play various roles and blend in to the environment in which you seek information. I think of it as acting. As a female, I am able to get more creative and get closer to my subjects without spooking them. For example, I can easily go to someone’s door and use the pretense of being lost or looking for another address, which allows me to get close enough to see if the individual I may be looking for is inside. Society tends to view a female as less of a threat than a male.

There have been times I have been approached by a police office for sitting in one spot too long. The officer wants to ensure that I am not staking out a residence to rob, or inquires what I might be doing in an area where I do not belong. Neighbors can get spooked and often don’t mind calling the police on a suspicious vehicle eyeballing the area. Growing up in this area has helped me skirt an arrest or two, but how long I can get away with it I do not know.

I can only say that my time clock continues to tick while I deal with them – there’s a good chance I make more per hour than they do while dealing with me!

There is much technology available to private investigators, making our tasks easier to perform. However, they too have their limits. A night vision camera is a private investigator’s dream, but they require close range. Proof of wrongdoing and case evidence will be difficult to obtain if you cannot get close enough. Privacy laws make it difficult to GPS track an individual’s vehicle unless the person who owns the vehicle consents. This means you need to track an individual’s whereabouts the old fashioned way, tailing them personally.

Obtaining cell phone records is almost impossible these days with so many people on different plans — even spouses with separate accounts. There are ways around some of these laws but I cannot tell you all the tricks of my trade. Some of them are not admissible in court but if you simply want to know if there is infidelity or misdeeds going on, I get the job done!

Access to several online sources are available, providing personal and private information that most individuals (even other professionals) do not have access to. There are guidelines for accessing these sources as well in order to protect the individual. A private investigator must be licensed in the state in which they are working and must document what the information is being obtained for. Inspectors from these sources visibly inspect areas where documents are kept to ensure that locked cabinets and doors exist to safeguard the information. The Internet is an essential and an impressive tool when it comes to locating missing persons or fugitives on the run from the law, also known as skip tracing. This is one of my specialties and most interesting tasks. I personally have assisted in locating and reuniting family members and catching fugitives who have failed to go to court. It is rewarding when you can use your skills for good.

Private investigations can be as exciting as you want it to be based on the types of jobs you take or the creativity used to obtain the proof and evidence. For example, I was hired to interview an inmate and investigate a situation that was occurring in a county prison between a jailer and various inmates. This can lead to dealing with people you might not typically cross paths with and helping to right a wrong within the justice system itself.

The bottom line is most of what you see on television is illegal and cannot be done due to current laws and legislature, but it is never dull and always interesting. Each case is different and requires its own set of tasks required to be successful in completing the case. It does not take an ex-police officer to become a private investigator. I myself have a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and am completing my Master’s Degree. I have been a Fraud Investigator for the county Department of Social Services and an Investigator for the Federal Office of Personnel Management. A background in the legal or criminal justice field is helpful but not necessarily required. Good instincts, attention to detail, the ability to spend countless hours on one task, and willingness to learn is all that is needed to get started as a Private Investigator. A good Private Investigator hones in on those skills and builds on them over several years in the field, enhanced by continuing education.

The field of Private Investigations is another career that is constantly changing and you must keep up with the laws for your state and the technology advances that could produce more efficient and effective results for your clients. If you have questions, or are interested in the becoming a Private Investigator, feel free to email me at yourthirdeye@yahoo.com.

N.C. Department of Commerce recognizes PotashCorp-Aurora

At far right, N.C. Secretary of Commerce, John E. Skvarla III, and Will Collins, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, present Kim Toler, PotashCorp-Aurora Training Manager, with the Apprenticeship Program award.

AURORA — PotashCorp-Aurora recently received recognition from the North Carolina Department of Commerce for using an innovative approach to apprenticeships for workforce training.

Kim Toler, site-training manager for the phosphate-mining behemoth, accepted the Outstanding Innovative Registered Apprenticeship Program award on behalf of PotashCorp-Aurora, at the recent NCWorks Apprenticeship Conference in Greensboro.

The Aurora facility has integrated the apprenticeship program in every facet of operations. Since 1984, PotashCorp-Aurora has trained accountants, lab technicians, mine operations personnel and emergency responders — among several trades available for apprenticeships.

Since its inception, 1,938 workers have entered the program and 1,510 received their Apprenticeship certificate and an additional 272 completed the Mastercraftsmen program. PotashCorp-Aurora currently has 123 apprentices enrolled, including 22 in the Mastercraftsmen program.

“Apprenticeships help businesses like PotashCorp-Aurora find the specific talent they need to grow in a competitive environment,” said N.C. Commerce Secretary, John E. Skvarla, III. “We recognized PotashCorp-Aurora during our NCWorks Apprenticeship Conference, because investing in workers is instrumental in the company’s success and the growth of our economy.”

According to the Department of Commerce, “You have improved the skills, talents and capabilities of your employees … and revealed how to build and sustain success by including training in all aspects of your business.”

Earlier this month, in special ceremonies held at the site, PotashCorp-Aurora and the N.C. Department of Commerce recognized 62 employees who have earned Apprenticeship certification and recognition.

“Continuous improvement is a core value at PotashCorp-Aurora,” said General Manager, Mark Johnson. “We are honored to have received this award and recognize the efforts of our many apprentices who have developed skills to grow their careers for our mutual benefit.”

Chamber bestows year-end awards

CAMP SEAFARER – The Pamlico County Chamber of Commerce honored three businesses, and two individuals Tuesday night during the group’s annual Christmas dinner, held at Taylor Lodge of Camp Seafarer.

Small Business of the Year

Teresa Cahoon, president of Bobby Cahoon Marine Construction, accepts Small Business of the Year award from Joyce Swimm, executive director of the Chamber. “Both Bobby and I come from families of small business owners,” said Cahoon, acknowledging the huge role her father, Terry Scott, played “during my 20 years with his business, Scott Plumbing and Heating.” Cahoon also praised Deborah Kennedy, who oversees many of the company’s administrative tasks. The firm employs 26 people and in recent years has dramatically expanded its operations, well beyond its original Pamlico County roots.


New business of the Year

 

Todd Willis and Heather of Neuse River Bait & Tackle were warmly welcomed as New Business of the Year by their fellow Chamber members. In brief, but emotional remarks, Todd Willis fought tears when he recalled his younger years at a legendary store, owned and operated by his grandfather, Lionel Willis. “It was there that I learned everyone who came through those glass doors was a friend, or about ready to become one. My grandfather taught me that you need three things for success: Trust in God, hard work, and genuine love for your fellow man.”


Citizen of the Year

Sam Myers, one of Pamlico County’s best known personalities, and a hard-working Rotarian, snared Citizen of the Year honors. In 2003, Myers was instrumental in starting the county’s Habitat for Humanity Chapter. Since then, he has tackled many other ambitious fund-raising projects, while inspiring other volunteers along the way – all designed to benefit the less fortunate. In recent years, he has propelled the Rotary Club’s Oriental Boat Show into the upper echelon of things nautical. “There’s still a lot to do,” said Myers. “Let’s team up to get it done!”


Volunteer of the Year

 

Brent Stowe, in accepting his award as Volunteer of the Year, demonstrated a remarkable trait – his immediate, unsolicited, and genuine praise for others – quickly naming several people in the audience who were equally worthy of the honor. Stowe, who suffers from a disability that severely curtails his vision, is active with a number of nonprofits, but the Pamlico County Heritage Center “is where he has spent more than 600 hours of his time over the last year,” said Swimm (the chamber’s executive director), who knows him well.


Large Business of the Year

 

In a new category, Chamber officials lauded Tideland Electric Membership Corp, for its unwavering support of the community. The utility has 22,000 customers throughout eastern North Carolina, “and we serve wonderful folks,” said Heidi Smith, Director of Community Relations. Smith said that compared to other big electricity suppliers “We may be small, but we think we care more than the others!” Founded in 1942, Tideland EMC is celebrating its 75th year of continuous operation.

Attention Nonprofits! Apply now!

Pope Foundation to award dual grants of $100K each

From left: John Hood, (Foundation President), Jayme Frole, Tanya Blackford (Safelight Executive Director), David Stover (Foundation Board Member), and Kayla Nguyen during the announcement of the $100,000 Safelight grant in March 2016. 

From left: John Hood, (Foundation President), Jayme Frole, Tanya Blackford (Safelight Executive Director), David Stover (Foundation Board Member), and Kayla Nguyen during the announcement of the $100,000 Safelight grant in March 2016.

RALEIGH — The John William Pope Foundation announced this week that it would again offer two statewide competitive grants. North Carolina nonprofits can apply for the 2017 Joy Pope Memorial Grant in the Arts and the 2017 Joy Pope Memorial Grant in Human Services until October 17, 2016.

The foundation will award $100,000, for each grant, to a selected nonprofit for an innovative project that will be completed in 2017. Interested organizations should visit the foundation’s website at www.jwpf.org for more information and application instructions.

“Traditionally, the Pope Foundation’s humanitarian and arts giving has focused on needs in the Triangle area,” said foundation Vice President Joyce Pope.  “But we know there are needs across the state and organizations with innovative ideas to address those needs.  This competitive grant program allows us to directly impact communities and inspire North Carolina’s nonprofit network.”

This is the second year the Pope Foundation has offered competitive grants.  In early 2016, the Fayetteville Symphony Youth Orchestra received the arts grant to create an instrument lending library for their youngest musicians.  Safelight Family Services of Hendersonville received the human services grant for the expansion of Dandelion, a nonprofit restaurant that provides jobs training for survivors of domestic violence.

Joy W. Pope was the wife of the late entrepreneur and foundation namesake, John William Pope.  She was president of the foundation from 1986-1992, a founding member of the Raleigh Fine Arts Society, and an early supporter of Carolina Ballet.  The John William Pope Foundation works to improve the well being of citizens through the advancement of individual freedom and personal responsibility.  Since 1986, the foundation has given more than $100 million to nonprofits.

“Pig” opens in Oriental

The Grand Opening on Wednesday morning attracted a huge crowd -- all of whom seemed to be in a party mood!

The Grand Opening on Wednesday morning attracted a huge crowd — all of whom seemed to be in a party mood!

ORIENTAL — After seven months without a grocery store, this small waterfront community embraced entrepreneur Billy Flockhart and staffers as Piggly Wiggly opened its doors Wednesday morning in a building once occupied by Walmart Express.

Photos by Terry McCune

Grocery entrepreneur Billy Flockhart was all smiles. Over the past seven months, the hard charging, hands-on store owner faced numerous obstacles – including a huge financial investment – in order to open a new Piggly Wiggly in a building once occupied by a Walmart Express.

Grocery entrepreneur Billy Flockhart was all smiles. Over the past seven months, the hard charging, hands-on store owner faced numerous obstacles – including a huge financial investment – in order to open a new Piggly Wiggly in a building once occupied by a Walmart Express.

 

Flockhart, known for his smart marketing, believes a dragon theme for his in-store eatery will resonate among customers from Oriental and surrounding areas.

Flockhart, known for his smart marketing, believes a dragon theme for his in-store eatery will resonate among customers from Oriental and surrounding areas.

 

ragon Café has a “spacious, big city feel,” said one enthusiastic patron.

Dragon Café has a “spacious, big city feel,” said one enthusiastic patron.

 

Store mascot ‘Mr. Pig’ danced a jig immediately after the ribbon cutting.

Store mascot ‘Mr. Pig’ danced a jig immediately after the ribbon cutting.

Heads almost roll in Health Department

Director’s hasty firing threats, later rescinded to ‘Administrative Leave’

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BAYBORO – A routine ‘webinar’ (cyberspeak for video instruction that arrives over an Internet connection) turned testy last Thursday, April 14, when Dennis Harrington, director of the Pamlico County Health Department, threatened to fire two veteran employees, Tammy Rodriguez and Vanessa Jackson.

Rodriguez, who has both a Masters degree in Public Health and an MBA, is responsible for inspecting all food service operations. She signs the “Sanitation Grade” certificate, which must be prominently posted in every restaurant – making her signature perhaps the most visible ‘John Hancock’ in Pamlico County.

Jackson, well known in the community, is the receptionist and administrative staffer for Environment Health. That section is housed on the first floor of the Bayboro courthouse, in a large office that also accommodates the Emergency Management Office and the Building Inspections Department.

Rodriguez and Jackson were not interviewed for this story. Insiders familiar with the incident say both women hope to return to their full-time jobs, hopefully exonerated of any wrongdoing. They do not want to comment, for fear of retribution.

Those same sources describe morale among many Health Department employees as “so bad you wouldn’t believe it.’

Reports gleaned from a number of people indicate Harrington apparently became incensed during the webinar when “he saw one of them texting, and the other one was not taking notes like he thought they ought to be doing.”

Harrington later said to one, if not both, of the women: “You’re going to resign or I’m going to fire you by noon.”

In the hours that followed, at least two county commissioners either called or corralled Harrington – who is under paid contract to Pamlico County for his services, and is not technically an employee. When cooler heads prevailed, Harrington agreed to go along with a less severe disciplinary action known as “Administrative Leave” – but only after Rodriguez and Jackson each returned to work on Friday, April 15, demanding either a letter or formal notice of any threatened termination or disciplinary action.

A group of local citizens – appointed by the Pamlico County Commissioners – comprise an entity known as the Board of Health, charged with the oversight of Harrington and of other public health matters.

This newspaper has e-mailed questions and public information requests to both Pamlico County Manager Tim Buck and to Harrington. However, by press time of this newspaper, neither man had responded. One source indicated that Administrative Leave for both Rodriguez and Jackson is in effect thru the end of April.

Personnel matters – particularly those that involve government employees – seldom see the light of day in North Carolina, where existing state law treats most disciplinary actions as off limits to public scrutiny.

For those who may have more information about this episode, we invite them to e-mail their comments to: jeff@compasssnews360.com This newspaper will, under no circumstances, reveal the names or any other information about those who respond.

One courthouse source was blunt in an assessment of the situation:

“Dennis leads by intimidation,” said the person. “You’re scared to speak up, and if you do, you’re out of there. Tammy has too many feathers (credentials) in her hat. They look at her as being a threat to the department’s current leadership.”

Mission Statement
Promote the optimal health of Pamlico County residents through high quality professional services, to foster public Trust, to minimize identified public health risks and to ensure the safety of the environment for future generations.