Category Archives: Oriental

Above everything else!

ORIENTAL – On a windy St. Patrick’s Day, Capt. Ron Diamond dangles amid the treetops, while setting trusses on a new house for local entrepreneur Rich Halverson. Diamond’s boom, fully extended, can reach up to 85 feet above ground, certainly proof that ‘Above All Roofing’ is an appropriate name for his long-time business.

Massive, wind-fanned fire destroys home in Oriental

Homeowners escape without injury

ORIENTAL – Horrific fire, with mind-numbing blazes, Saturday morning about 11:30 completely destroyed the two-story residence of George and Judy Smith at 402 Whittaker Point Drive – and may have severely damaged two vehicles parked in the home’s driveway.

The homeowners escaped, and reported no injuries.

By noon, massive flames had totally engulfed the structure. At one point — before an overwhelming response by up to four Volunteer Fire Departments – the blaze, fanned by a brisk breeze, threatened a nearby residence.
However, a vacant lot – though wooded and strewn with dry leaves – served as a buffer until firefighters arrived.

The homeowner, George Smith – interviewed roadside while his newly remodeled home burned – said the cause of the fire “was a charger for my golf cart battery.” Smith, on the mend from recent knee surgery, had the presence of mind to call 911 while hobbling from the structure. His wife, Judy, is also safe.

More details on this tragedy will follow in subsequent posts.

Ballroom Dancing National Champs!

ORIENTAL — Local residents John & Penny DeFino have once again been crowned National Ballroom Champions!

The award-winning couple recently returned from the USA Dance Senior IV National Ballroom competition held this year in Bethesda, Maryland. Hundreds of competitors from across the country gathered for this three-day, prestigious dance contest.

Participants must first qualify to dance at the National Competition by placing in the top 65 percent of a National Qualifying event during the previous year.

The DeFinos snared four National titles for their division in International Style Standard dances to include: Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot & Quickstep, as well as International Style Latin Dances including Samba, Cha Cha, Rumba and Jive. This is the sixth time the couple has danced in a National Dance competition and the second time they have been recognized as National Ballroom Champions.

John & Penny live in Oriental and teach ballroom dancing at several area locations. Visit their website:

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.

Oriental drug dealer arrested in Durham

Clinton Belangia

Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office

Over the last several weeks, Investigators with The Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office received information about the distribution of illegal narcotics in the Town of Oriental, specifically, 504 Academy Street, Oriental NC. During the investigation, it was determined that Clinton Belangia was involved in distributing heroin and cocaine from 504 Academy Street. On 01/19/2017 Investigators from the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search warrant at 504 Academy Street, Oriental NC. Cocaine, Heroin and Marijuana were located inside the house along with U.S. Currency and a firearm. On 01/29/2017 Clinton Belangia was arrested by the Durham County Sheriff’s Office for warrants out of Pamlico County.

Clinton Wayne Belangia was arrested and charged with the following:
PWISD Cocaine: one count
PWISD Heroin: one count
PWISD Marijuana: one count

Belangia had a secure bond of $5,000.00 and a court date of 02/03/2017

The Spirit of Christmas Polar Express

December 9th & 10th, 2016
An Oriental Christmas Since 1986

Each year the merchants, churches, townspeople and civic groups unite to present this heartwarming event in the spirit of giving and as a way to say “thank you” for support during the year.

Please come join us for holiday treats, entertainment and specials throughout town. Enjoy the Friday evening boat flotilla, the Saturday afternoon parade and revel in the beauty of our Town as luminaries light the streets at dusk after the parade.

This program is packed full of wonderful activities, many of which are gong on simultaneously. Please read the entire program so that you don’t miss anything. We have included a special thank you, at the very end of the program, listing our “silent” supporters without whom we simply could not have accomplished this wonderful weekend.

All of us say “Welcome Home for the Holiday”. To old and new friends, from out of town, we hope you enjoy Oriental and come back to visit or perhaps stay for good. To our local friends and neighbors, we thank you for your support year round.

This year Spirit Of Christmas is partnering with Heartworks. Donations towards Christmas dinners for area families in need are appreciated and encouraged. Drop off non-perishable food items at Marsha’s Cottage, Oriental Hardware or Nautical Wheelers between now and the day of the parade.

Spirit of Christmas – Polar Express Schedule

Download and Print Schedule

Download and Print Schedule

Storytelling, Silent Auction and Wine Tasting Saturday, November 5 at Oriental’s History Museum


Come enjoy the afternoon and help the History Museum celebrate eleven years of collecting artifacts and telling Oriental’s story. The annual meeting starts at 2pm, but the Museum opens at 1 pm for you to browse through the Silent Auction, bidding on those “just right” items for gift-giving. The auction features artwork, jewelry, note cards, hand-crafted items, and photography from your favorite local artists along with a selection of gift baskets and other items that will make perfect Christmas gifts. You can browse the Silent Auction all afternoon making sure you’re the highest bidder on that item you’ve set your heart on. The auction closes at 4pm at the end of the wine tasting. Our special exhibit of photos by Tony Craig, Country Stores in North Carolina, continues through December.

At 2 pm our annual meeting begins; topping the bill is Dale Montgomery, Oriental’s own Ghost Story Teller. Dale has been collecting haunted, off-beat, and humorous stories to tell us about this place we love. He’ll set the record straight and share with us the twisted path that created the name “Oriental.”

A wine tasting by Nautical Wheelers starts at 3 pm, where you can enjoy the latest offerings to serve during the Thanksgiving holiday. Don’t forget to buy a raffle ticket for a handcrafted wine rack embellished with a carved dragon. What a perfect Christmas gift. The drawing will take place at the Spirit of Christmas in December. We’ll also have Red Lee’s jukebox entertaining us all afternoon with all your favorite 50s and 60s hits from our extensive collection of Red’s records.

For more information on this event contact us at The Museum is located at 802 Broad Street in Oriental. Hours are: Friday 11-3, Saturday 1-4, Sunday 1-4. Admission is always free. Like us on Facebook.

Separate ‘boat washes’ in keeping with town’s long-range vision, say officials

Whittaker Creek Yacht Basin is one of the town’s oldest marinas. Owner Knute Bysheim told the town commissioners Tuesday night that he would do his best to improve the marina’s appearance and maintenance, which has been a concern of neighbors.

Whittaker Creek Yacht Basin is one of the town’s oldest marinas. Owner Knute Bysheim told the town commissioners Tuesday night that he would do his best to improve the marina’s appearance and maintenance, which has been a concern of neighbors.

ORIENTAL – This town, which likes to tout itself as a ‘working waterfront community,’ gave the green light Tuesday night for two unrelated boat washes, although state regulatory hurdles remain for each operation.

Both Point Pride Seafood, owned by local seafood magnate Chris Fulcher; and Whittaker Creek Yacht Basin, owned by marina operator Knute Bysheim, were required to apply for so-called ‘Special Use Permits.’ As fate would have it, the applications were not coordinated in any formal way – both projects just happened to hit the town meeting agenda on the same night.

Fulcher’s quest is by far the bigger of the two projects. In fact, one critic (town resident Bob Arrington) compared the ‘travel lift’ required in order to wash Point Pride’s massive fishing trawlers to another, existing lift used by a local boat repair yard.

“It will be a 300-ton lift which would dwarf the (other) lift in a way you cannot imagine,” said Arrington. .

And, let’s make another thing clear. The term ‘boat wash’ is a misnomer when describing either Fulcher’s or Bysheim’s projects.

Point Pride Seafood sits on a prominent peninsula inside the town limits. Prompted by a dispute over building height almost two decades ago, the structure has been roof-less. That should change, according to owner Chris Fulcher, who has assured town officials it is a planned improvement related to a new ‘boat wash’ at the sprawling complex.

Point Pride Seafood sits on a prominent peninsula inside the town limits. Prompted by a dispute over building height almost two decades ago, the structure has been roof-less. That should change, according to owner Chris Fulcher, who has assured town officials it is a planned improvement related to a new ‘boat wash’ at the sprawling complex.

These projects are far from what landlubbers might envision. Fulcher and Bysheim are not doing the typical souped-up car wash — complete with hoses, brushes, and a high semi-enclosed structure — where weekend warriors rinse off their beloved vessels after excursions into the area’s brackish waters.

Oh no!  Not at all!  Let’s just say Fulcher’s will be MEGA, and the Bysheim’s FAIRLY LARGE.

Since the late 1990s, almost all economic development– which has come in fits and starts – in Oriental has been governed by a zoning and a land use manual, known as the Growth Management Ordinance. The document contains a “Table of Permissible Uses” for each of the town’s handful of zones. For example, the table lists ‘travel lift operations’ as an OK type of thing in a commercial zone – requiring just a fairly routine land use permit.

But, ‘boat wash’ is a bit scarier!  It hints at runoff, contaminants, cleaning solvents – and the like. So, in its wisdom, the GMO demands more caution on the part of elected officials – hence the lofty-sounding mandate for a “Special Use Permit.”

Applicants, like Fulcher and Bysheim, are always leery of one requirement for Special Use Permits – the dreaded public hearing! There, concerned citizens sign up to express their grievances, often emphatically! Then, once the public hearing has been concluded, granting of a Special Use Permit requires seven, separate affirmative votes by elected officials to ensure everything is ‘above board’ (pun intended):

  • The project is within the jurisdiction of the town.
  • The project’s written application is complete in all respects.
  • The project complies with the relevant chapter of the Growth Management Ordinance
  • The project will not endanger the public’s health or safety.
  • The project will not injure the value of adjoining or abutting properties.
  • The project is in harmony with existing uses.
  • The project comports with all of the town’s various plans – for example, harbor-front management, vision statement, drainage, etc.

Commissioner Barb Venturi, the board’s senior statesman (having served longer than anyone else) waxed eloquent when she reminded the large crowd that a document – drafted 10 years ago after much public input – instructs elected officials to adopt policies intended to preserve Oriental’s ‘working waterfront.”

“I look at those trawlers in the harbor and they almost seem like mythical beings to me,” she said. “And, in our town, for the most part, commercial and recreational boaters mingle well. People don’t come here to look at the sailboats. Instead, they say ‘Wow!’ and then start taking photos of all the trawlers.”

WELCOME PADDLERS! World’s fastest growing watersport embraces region

 Draggin’ Tails, led by drummer and family matriarch Fran Deaton, returns to the Oriental Dragon Boat Race and Festival for the seventh consecutive year. The event is hosted by River Dunes.

Draggin’ Tails, led by drummer and family matriarch Fran Deaton, returns to the Oriental Dragon Boat Race and Festival for the seventh consecutive year. The event is hosted by River Dunes.

RIVER DUNES – Early on Saturday, Aug. 13, this idyllic site will host a beehive of activity. In its seventh year, the Oriental Dragon Boat Festival welcomes 16 incredibly competitive teams. The calm, protected waters of Grace Harbor Marina, nestled deep within the sprawling confines of the River Dunes residential community, offer Dragon Boat paddlers a premier racing experience, according to festival organizer, Flora Moorman.

“We are so appreciative to Ed Mitchell, president of River Dunes Corporation; to all of the wonderful residents of the community; and to the employees and staff for their hard work and tireless efforts,” said Moorman. “This beautiful spot, just a few miles from downtown Oriental, has quickly become recognized as perhaps the best venue for Dragon Boat racing throughout the southeastern United States. Not only is Grace Harbor great for the 300-plus paddlers, the layout of the marina is ideal for spectators! If the weather cooperates, we expect a blockbuster crowd for 2016.”

Salty Serpents – an all Navy team and last year’s overall champion – returns to defend its title along with the remainder of the Military Division: Devil Dogs, Neuse Winds Freedom Riders, Chesty Pullers and Spartan Longpaddles.

The Riverside Knights, a high school team from Williamston, was the Champion of the Community Division last year. Super fast and synchronized, these young people are back to defend their title. Look for the Boy Scouts of America – local Troop 683 – to give Riverside Knights a run for their money! The Boy Scouts are known as BSA Waverunners!

Also in the Community Division and new for 2016 is the recently formed First Citizens Bank Dragon Team, with Capt. Sally Belangia (who also serves as Mayor of Oriental). Yet another new welcome goes to Rum Rowers Dragons, led by Deborah Harris, from New Bern – these folks were spectators last year and resolved to return in 2016 as a formal team captained by Deborah Harris from New Bern.

Perennial crowd favorite Draggin’ Tails, is a local team fielded by Oriental-based Deaton Yacht Services. The Deaton clan schedules its annual Family Reunion to coincide with the festival. Family matriarch Fran Deaton, now in her late 80s, has been known to take her place as team drummer – and led Draggin’ Tails to an overall championship in the 2010 inaugural event.

Other local teams include: Oriental Dragon Masters, comprised of club members who practice year round in their own official Dragon Boat; PotashCorp Fossil Floaters – dangerous wild-cards in previous Dragon Boat Festivals, often coming from way back to finish high on the leaderboard; and, the Economic Drivi’n Dragon team, comprised of Pamlico County Chamber of Commerce businesses, is always in contention.

For the second year, River Dunes Dragons, representing the festival’s host site, returns. Friends and family of property owners comprise the team, although vacant spots are usually filled with local firefighters, representing Southeast Pamlico Volunteer Fire Department.

Another powerhouse is ‘Raleigh Relentless’ – officially the Raleigh Dragon Boat Club. These guys and gals to are known for their streamlined performances, and spectators should expect to see this group produce some of the fastest times over the 300-meter course.

Emotions and sentiments always run high for the Cancer Survivor Division, which includes some amazing stories. DragonBoat Beaufort, a SC Cancer Survivor Team; our local Dragons With A Cause Team; and Chris Hart and his team mates of HOPE FLOATS NC combine their passion for kayaking with their desire to raise awarness of Cancer and keep HOPE alive.

Each of the teams have pre-set practice times, which begin at around 3 pm. on Friday, Aug. 12. Opening ceremonies begin promptly at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 13 with a parade of teams – and actual racing to follow shortly thereafter.

Brantley’s Village Restaurant will be our breakfast vendor and we have othere vendors with all sorts of mouthwatering foods for lunch. Bring a lawn chair, blanket, sunscreen, and perhaps some bug spray! We do have tents up and bleachers for our spectators. Visit for more information. Last minute registrations email: or call or text (252) 675-9424.

Battle of the Paddles! Teams almost set for Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon-Boat-LogoORIENTAL – With just over a week to go before the big date on Saturday, Aug. 13 at River Dunes’ Grace Harbor Marina, the list of teams committed to participate in the Seventh Annual Oriental Dragon Boat Race & Festival is taking shape. Here is a quick up-to-date list, with other teams pending:

Oriental Dragon Masters: This is the local Dragon Boat Club Team, which took 2nd place
Silver Medals in the Community Division Championship Final in 2015. Insiders report this crew is practicing like crazy on the waters in and around town – they will be in the hunt for sure, again this year.

Draggin Tails: Returning for the SEVENTH consecutive year, this team is always a contender. Comprised of Deaton family members and employees of Deaton Boatyard, the squad took 3rd place Bronz Medals in the Community Division Championship Final in 2015..

DragonBoat Beaufort, S.C. — Cancer Survivor Team; loved the venue to race but especially the People in Oriental so much they are COMING BACK!! The team took 1st place in the Cancer/Survivor Supporter Division and 2nd place in the Community Division Consolation Final.

Dragons with a Cause: Carolina East Medical Center a Community Outreach Partner supported in 2015 and 2016 the paddle for the forming Cancer Survivor & Supporter Team. Last year in it’s first racing opportunity the newly forming team finished 2nd in the Cancer Survivor/Supporter Division and 4th in the Community Division Consolation Final.

Hope Floats: In 2013 this team kayaked into Oriental at the annual Oriental Boat Show after paddling for eight days from Raleigh. After looking at the Dragon Boat they said “we want to paddle” in the Dragon Boat Race in 2014. Hope Floats NC features 22 paddlers, doing 8 days, we represent 6 states including Virginia, District of Columbia, Florida, Michigan, Texas, and North Carolina, and supporters from all over the country. And this spread out network has one common mission; The mission of the Hope Floats NC is to help find a cure, bring awareness to the fight, and honor those who have battled cancer. This Team is amazing and in 2014 they took 2nd place in the B Division Championship Final.

River Dunes Dragons: A new team last year with Southeast Pamlico Volunteer Firefighters embedded into the team took 4th in Community Division Championship Final. A Great Race for their first year. The team also donated $1200.00 to Heartworks. They are getting ready this year and are looking forward to the Race!

Warp Speed Dragons: A new team last year from the New Bern area, comprised of teachers took 3rd place in the Community Division Consolation Final. They will again be must be considered a wild card in the competition, as they bring with them Star Trek-induced tricks of the trade.

Boy Scouts of America Troop 683 Wave Riders: A perennial favorite these young men and troop leaders always come prepared. Sponsored by PotashCorp-Aurora. Look for them to compete with the best of the best!

Riverside Knights: Unbelievable! These are kids – many of them can’t even drive yet, but man oh man, can they paddle! This high school and junior high team hail from Williamston. In last year’s festival, these competitors took top honors in the Community Division. We welcome them back to Oriental, where they will quickly become a crowd favorite!

Fossil Floaters: Known for their ‘come from behind’ finishes, this squad is one exciting outfit. They, of course, are valued employees of nearby mining behemoth PotashCorp-Aurora. In 2015, they had everyone screaming when the 1st Place in the Community Division Consulation Final. Look forward to the “Come From Behind Kids” again this year.

Economic Drivi’n Dragon: Want to start a business, or improve the success of an existing business!? Check with any of the paddlers who make up a ‘combined team’ – Chamber of Commerce members from Pamlico County, Aurora and Havelock.

First Citzens Bank Team Shipwreck: newly forming team for Sally Belangia this year is taking the name of “Team Shipwreck” and looking to WIN! Team Shipwreck Finished 1st in 2013 in the Second Flight Division and 1st in the B Division Consolation Final in 2014.

Devil Dogs: Deaton Boatyard, a six-year Community Outreach Partner for military men and women teams supported a powerhouse Marine team, who took 2nd place Silver in the Military Division Championship Final in 2015.

Chesty Pullers: CarolinaEast Medical Center, a Community Outreach Partner supported the military named team named after Lewis Burwell “Chesty Puller” a United States Marine Corps Lieutenant General who is the most decorated Marine in American History

Neuse Winds Freedom Riders: This all-Marine unit holds the record for fastest time over a 250-meter course and were Gold Medal Winners in 2013. In 2015 they took Bronze and came in 3rd in the Military Division. Once again, our sincere appreciation to John Weinerth MD and his wife Peggy for renewing their pledge to serve as a Community Outreach Partners for these fine young men and women.

Salty Serpents: Last year thanks to Tori McNeill and Jennifer & Frank Roe (a combined Community Outreach Partnership) Salty Serpents were given the opportunity to paddle and to everyone’s surprise they took the Gold #1 in the Military Division in 2015. They will be a team to watch this year!

Spartan Longpaddles: PotashCorp—Aurora All Marines, and 100 percent muscle. This team blew away the competition in 2013, taking home the Gold in the Championship Division. No doubt about it, this unit remains a force to be reckoned with!!!

Free admission for spectators, but please bring a canned food item for FISHES & LOAVES! There’s still time to register, either as a team or as a single paddler.