Category Archives: Merritt

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.

PRESS RELEASE – Three mule livestock animals shot, Gibbtown Rd., Merrit

Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Chris Davis

PRESS RELEASE

02/01/2016

Pamlico County Sheriff

On February 1st, 2016 Deputies from the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office responded to Gibbtown Rd. in the Merritt community to assist the Pamlico County Animal Control in regards an animal cruelty case.

Upon arrival it was determined that three mule livestock animals had suffered a gunshot wound and subsequently were found deceased. Two of the animals were located a short distance from the owners residence on Saturday January 30th, 2016. The third animal was located in the animals stable on the morning of February 1st, 2016. It is believed that all three animals were shot at the same time.

Neighbors in area report that a silver in color SUV, similar to a Chevrolet Suburban, was seen in the area on Saturday, January 30th, 2016. Neighbors state that the vehicle was seen at approximately 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The neighbors advised that shortly after the vehicle entered the area a series of gunshots were heard,

The Pamlico County Animal Control Office and The Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office are seeking the community’s assistance in identifying and locating the suspect(s) involved in this crime. There is a $500 reward for any information leading to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for this crime.

Have you seen this man?

Web-post--mug-for-Kareen-ElliotPAMLICO COUNTY — On Monday October 12, Investigators with the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office and agents with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations obtained warrants for Kareen Ramel Elliot of Frazier Town Road in Harlowe, N.C. for his involvement in the home invasion on Trent Road in Pamlico County early Saturday morning.

Elliot, with a birth date of Sept. 30, 1978, has an active warrant for First Degree Burglary and should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone that knows his whereabouts is asked to contact the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office at (252) 745-3101.

UPDATE – Merrit Home Invasion 911 Calls Released

Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Chris Davis

unnamed

PRESS RELEASE

10/10/2015

Moses Ellis Tolvert III

Moses Ellis Tolvert III

On Saturday, October 10, 2015, at approximately 3:00 am, Deputies with the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of a home invasion at 3057 Trent Road in Merritt NC. Upon arrival Deputies found a male subject shot inside the residence. Emergency personnel arrived on scene and pronounced the male subject deceased. The deceased male was identified as Moses Ellis TOLVERT III, of Havelock NC, DOB 11-03-1979.

Investigators with the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office and Agents with The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation were called in to investigate the incident. Investigators and Agents conducted interviews and collected evidence from the scene. Based on the evidence collected at the scene and interviews that were conducted it was determined that (3) individuals wearing masks entered the residence brandishing a weapon and demanded money and drugs. During the incident one of the homeowners shot one of the intruders which resulted in a fatality. The other suspects left the residence on foot. A 2012-2015 dark blue in color Chrysler 200 was seen leaving the area at the time of the home invasion.

The Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate this incident. Anyone with information about the home invasion is asked to contact the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office at (252)745-3101. The Sheriff’s Office is offering a reward for information resulting in the arrest of the two suspects that are still at large.

 

1st Call:

 

 

2nd Call:

Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office – PRESS RELEASE

Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Chris Davis

unnamed

PRESS RELEASE

10/10/2015

On Saturday, October 10, 2015, at approximately 3:00 am, Deputies with the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of a home invasion at 3057 Trent Road in Merritt NC. Upon arrival Deputies found a male subject shot inside the residence. Emergency personnel arrived on scene and pronounced the male subject deceased. The deceased male was identified as Moses Ellis TOLVERT III, of Havelock NC, DOB 11-03-1979.

Investigators with the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office and Agents with The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation were called in to investigate the incident. Investigators and Agents conducted interviews and collected evidence from the scene. Based on the evidence collected at the scene and interviews that were conducted it was determined that (3) individuals wearing masks entered the residence brandishing a weapon and demanded money and drugs. During the incident one of the homeowners shot one of the intruders which resulted in a fatality. The other suspects left the residence on foot. A 2012-2015 dark blue in color Chrysler 200 was seen leaving the area at the time of the home invasion.

The Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate this incident. Anyone with information about the home invasion is asked to contact the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office at (252)745-3101. The Sheriff’s Office is offering a reward for information resulting in the arrest of the two suspects that are still at large.

Meth lab way off the beaten path

Gary Rufus Miller was arrested at this remote trailer Tuesday night and charged with manufacturing methamphetamine.

Gary Rufus Miller was arrested at this remote trailer Tuesday night and charged with manufacturing methamphetamine.

this-oneMERRITT – The site of a meth lab bust Tuesday night could not be more aptly named.

An obscure, out-of-the-way trailer at 373 Hidden Lane — the only home on a lonely stretch — quickly became a beehive of activity late Tuesday as law enforcement officials with the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations descended upon the back porch of the residence where investigators and agents “located an active meth lab that was still in the manufacturing process,” according to a press released issued by Pamlico County Sheriff Chris Davis.

Can there possibly be anything at the end of this road? Yes! Investigators discovered Miller’s meth lab, which was “still in the manufacturing process,” reported Pamlico County Sheriff Chris Davis.

Can there possibly be anything at the end of this road? Yes! Investigators discovered Miller’s meth lab, which was “still in the manufacturing process,” reported Pamlico County Sheriff Chris Davis.

Hidden Lane is little more than a dusty, half-mile farm road, off Callison Road – a seldom-used state road that is lined with acres and acres of tall cornstalks. Neither Hidden Lane nor Callison Road bear any type of signage. The very end of Hidden Lane, where the illicit conduct took place, is one of those places in Pamlico County that has fallen off the radar screens of many in the community.

As a result of the three-month investigation, which culminated in the Tuesday night raid, Gary Rufus Miller, age 53, was arrested and charged with the following crimes: Manufacturing Methamphetamine; Maintaining a Dwelling for Controlled Substances; Possession of Marijuana; and, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Miller is being held in the Pamlico County Detention Facility on an $80,000 secured bond. His first court appearance is Friday, July 31, in Pamlico County District Court.

Huge forest cut

Are wetlands illegally being converted to farm land?

By Allen Propst | Special to the County Compass

This ditch in the Atlas Tract has recently been cleared of trees. Originally dug in the late 1980s, the ditch was an apparent violation of the ‘Swampbuster’ provision of the Food Security Act of 1985, passed to discourage the conversion of wetlands to agricultural production. Bulldozers in the Atlas Tract have been used to remove stumps of trees recently cut. Hundreds of deer, bear, turkeys and thousands of small mammals and songbirds are permanently displaced.

This ditch in the Atlas Tract has recently been cleared of trees. Originally dug in the late 1980s, the ditch was an apparent violation of the ‘Swampbuster’ provision of the Food Security Act of 1985, passed to discourage the conversion of wetlands to agricultural production. Bulldozers in the Atlas Tract have been used to remove stumps of trees recently cut. Hundreds of deer, bear, turkeys and thousands of small mammals and songbirds are permanently displaced.

Something’s been happening in the woods near Merritt and it doesn’t bode well. The trees are being clear cut on a 4,658 acre tract of land between Florence-Whortonsville Road and Trent Road. What’s worse is what’s to come.

This land is part of the most important watershed on the lower Neuse River. Owners of this watershed, locally known as the Atlas Tract, are trying to convert those 4,600 acres from a wetland forest to agriculture. And that’s what could really harm the Neuse River and both the life within it and the life here on its shores.

A little background.

Spring Creek Farms LLC purchased this property from Copper Station via a holding company called Northeast Dakota Holdings LLC for $7.1 million or just under $1,525 per acre. By converting this property to agricultural land, costing around $1,000 per acre for the conversion, and with farm land currently selling in Pamlico County for as much as $5,400 per acre, a future sale of $25 million could net as much as $13 million in profit.You can understand the incentive then, to make this conversion to farmland.

Spring Creek Farms LLC has hired a large land-management group to provide documentation to the Corps of Engineers saying that most or all or this 4,658 acres is now uplands and is no longer wetlands. If they are officially called uplands, a big obstacle has been removed and converting these former wetlands into agriculture lands can be done without violating Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act.

It’s one thing to say, on paper, that those are already uplands. Visit the grounds out there and you’ll see a different story.

I personally looked at this entire tract two years ago for a client that was looking for hunting property when Copper Station was marketing this tract for hunting and/or forestry purposes. I firmly believe, based on 26 years of buying/selling raw land, that at least 75 percent or more of this property is 404 wetlands.

NEWS1-Dense-Forest-BulldozersHere’s why it’s so important to keep them as wetlands. By permanently converting a wetland forest into farm land, you completely destroy the viability of this watershed. No longer will the heavy rains during the winter months be absorbed by these wetlands with a slow release of moisture during the drier spring/summer months.

Instead, harmful run-off will flow into the headwaters of Trent Creek, Pierce Creek, Orchard Creek and Brown & Lower Broad Creek. If this wetland forest is converted to farm land, then heavy rains will immediately flood these headwaters with agricultural run-off. The result: you’ll see algae blooms and eutrophication – too many nutrients – in the waters nearby, which are valuable primary nurseries for fish, shrimp, crabs and oysters.

Again, if the land is left as wetland, it can absorb, like a sponge, whatever rain hits it. But it’s another thing entirely when rain hits an agricultural field and the draining ditches dug next to them. Consider these numbers: One inch of rainfall on one acre of land will produce 27,154 gallons of run-off if it is ditched and well-drained. On 4,658 acres, one inch of rainfall equals 126,483,332 gallons of run-off. Pamlico County averages close to 60 inches of rain/year, so the annual run-off from a ditched & well-drained Atlas Tract will produce 7,588,999,920 gallons of run-off, containing sediment, herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer. That is over 7.5 billion gallons of polluted water. Our headwaters and primary nursery areas collecting this contaminated water will surely become cesspools void of life.

This wetland forest conversion to farm land will have an impact on life on land as well. Please understand, clear-cutting of small tracts, if done periodically, can actually be beneficial to wildlife by creating an edge-effect of new forage without dramatically destroying entire ecosystems. It grows back. But converting wetland forest to farm land , as Spring Creek Farms LLC wants to do, would permanently and forever destroy vital habitat not only for the hundreds of deer, bear, and wild turkey that inhabit the Atlas Tract, but for the thousands of birds and smaller mammals that will be permanently displaced. The Atlas Tract, as well as other large wetland forest tracts in eastern North Carolina, serve as a vital winter habitat for migratory songbirds for several months during the winter. Without large tracts such as the Atlas Tract, songbird populations will be negatively affected.

The Atlas Tract is 4,658 acres.

The Atlas Tract is 4,658 acres.

If Spring Creek Farms LLC wants to clear-cut the entire Atlas Tract, there is nothing that anybody can do to stop them. However, the only way that Spring Creek Farms LLC can convert their clear-cuts into farm land is through systematic ditching, and The Clean Water Act specifically says that you cannot convert 404 wetlands into uplands without a permit. Spring Creek Farms LLC must obtain permits from the Corps of Engineers in order to dig ditches.

If this land is presumed to be uplands, then why does Spring Creek Farms LLC need to ask for necessary permits to dig ditches or even clean-out any existing ditches on this tract? If this land cannot be ditched for farming, then the highest and best use for the property would be hunting/forestry and therefore it would not be completely cleared of trees.

Rachel Carson, who published a book in 1962 called Silent Spring, is credited with launching the contemporary American environmental movement. In “Silent Spring,” she described how pesticides such as DDT thinned the egg-shells in birds such as pelicans & bald eagles, which were both endangered at the time. Awareness of the harmful effects of DDT created a ban of the pesticide and subsequently the recovery of both the pelican and the bald eagle.

If Spring Creek Farms LLC receives permits for ditching the Atlas Tract and converts this wetland forest into farm land, then they should at least change their name to Silent Spring Creek Farms LLC, because the silence of displaced wildlife will be deafening.

Silence is not an option now for those who care about the health of the Neuse River and Pamlico County.

Once the agricultural fields and their chemicals come, so too will come the runoff in to the creeks. The algae blooms will occur. Fish kills will certainly happen. Once NC Fisheries samples occur and discover very few shrimp, fish, crabs & oysters are found, it’ll be up to the taxpayer to correct the problem. That’s you and me. The Federal Government will be forced to step-in and pay the owner of the Atlas Tract money, through the CREPS (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program) program, to convert this farm land back into a forest wetland. An expensive outcome.

Why don’t we just not make the mistake in the first place?

The key to stopping Spring Creek Farms LLC from destroying the Atlas Tract watershed is to contact the Corps of Engineers, Emily Greer: Emily.C.Greer@usace.army.mil. Cell: 910-251-4567, Fax: 252-975-1399. Let Emily know that you do not want the Atlas Tract watershed converted to farm land.

You can also contact Anthony Scarbraugh with NCDENR, Division of Water Resources, anthony.scarbraugh@ncdenr.gov. Phone: 252-948-3924. Again, please tell Anthony that you do not want the Atlas Tract watershed converted to farm land.

Organizations that are currently investigating this problem can also be contacted, as follows:

Todd Miller, N.C.Coastal Federation, toddm@nccoast.org. Cell: 252-241-0191, 252-393-8185 (w), 252-393-7508 (Fax)
Derb Carter, Southern Environmental Law Center, derbc@selcnc.org.
Rick Dove, rdove@ec.rr.com.

Editor’s note: An avid hunter and outdoors enthusiast, Allen Propst owns Mariner Realty in Oriental. Readers may e-mail him: allen@orientalncwaterfront.com.

Fire wreaks havoc

Community responds to needs of family

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

034-2MERRITT – A devastating fire Sunday night that wrecked the home and lives of two brothers and their grandparents triggered an outpouring of community support over the last three days. Arapahoe Charter School where Lance is a sixth-grader, and Pamlico Middle School where Tom is an eighth-grade football player, are at the forefront of the recovery efforts. The boys are in temporary housing, thanks to the largesse of a Charter School family. And, the grandparents are in Red Cross-paid hotel accommodations in Oriental.

Benefactors for the family have established a Wells Fargo bank account in Bayboro, titled the Baldree Rebuild Funds. Donations can be made at Wells Fargo, at Arapahoe Charter School, and at several area churches.

This Saturday, cleanup and recovery efforts begin at 9 a.m. Volunteers are needed to move, sweep, and otherwise assist with cleaning and rehabilitating the family’s possessions, which will then be put into storage containers.

040-3“We will have a game plan ready,” explained Mike Fuller, an employee of the Charter School and one of several who is spearheading the assistance effort. “We are looking to have three or four crews assigned to various tasks.”

Fuller added that chainsaws – and men to operate them– are needed. One or more air compressors will also be welcome, in addition to rags, trash bags, and cleaning supplies. Volunteers should wear sturdy boots, gloves, and protective clothing, possibly to include masks to minimize inhalation of particulates.

Directions to the site are as follows: Take Hwy. 55 to Florence Road. Travel five to six miles, then turn left on Bell Point Lane. Go three-fourths of a mile and turn left on Rivers Edge Road. For more information, call Fuller at (252) 635-7088.