Category Archives: River Dunes

‘Wet-down’ christens new substation


tcc052815p13aRIVER DUNES –Pamlico County relies upon volunteer fire departments – nine total – to cope with all types of emergencies. And, the department tasked with protecting the biggest, most valuable chunk of homes — Southeast Pamlico Volunteer Fire Department – christened a three-bay substation Saturday.

Alton Spruill, chief of Station 19, praised River Dunes property owners and River Dunes Corp. for their roles in the effort.

“River Dunes played a big part in helping with the vision of this substation,” said Spruill. “Everybody who owns property in this area pays a fire district tax, and on top of that, River Dunes Corp. donated the property for this building.”

Within a five-mail radius of the substation, Pamlico County Fire Marshal Chris Murray said the Fire Rating assigned by the state’s Insurance Services Organization is scheduled to drop from a 10 to a 6, effective Aug. 1 –yielding reduced fire insurance premiums throughout the district.

A highlight of the afternoon was a ‘wetdown’ – sort of a fire hose battle in which firefighters from the Arapahoe VFD, Triangle VFD, and Florence-Whortonsville VFD teamed up to drench a spirited, but out-manned quartet of firefighters representing the new substation.

River Dunes nabs magazine’s ‘Best Customer Service Marina’ award

Special to the County Compass

Grace Harbor at River Dunes’

Grace Harbor at River Dunes’

BALTIMORE — Marinalife recently announced winners of the publication’s 4th Annual Best Marina Contest: Saybrook Point Marina, Inn & Spa in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, for winning Best Transient Marina and to River Dunes in Oriental voted Best Customer Service.

River Dunes offers boaters access to a protected harbor with world-class amenities. Visitors will be impressed with the exceptional customer service this marina offers. They are continuously going to great lengths to ensure that each individual on board is treated only with the highest quality service. 

“River Dunes is very proud and honored to receive this national award. We strive to cater to each and every marina visitor in hopes that they leave with every intention to come back and enjoy a fabulous experience at our facility,” said Sherwood Crawford, Marketing Manager.  

Saybrook Point Marina

Saybrook Point Marina

Located at the mouth of the Connecticut River in the historic town of Old Saybrook, Saybrook Point Marina can accommodate vessels up to 200 feet. Boaters can take advantage of the amenities that Connecticut’s first designated Clean Marina offers including indoor and outdoor pools, onsite restaurant and spa, and friendly concierge service.

“We are thrilled to be selected as Best Transient Marina for 2013. This recognition welcomes the opportunity for new and repeat marina visitors to take advantage of the award winning facility that the Saybrook Point Marina team prides themselves on each and everyday,” said Abbie McAllister, Marina Manager.

Marinalife Magazine, published quarterly, is a lifestyle magazine featuring cruising stories, marina and waterfront destinations articles, as well as a directory of discounts and specials available to Marinalife members.

Welcome Oriental Dragon Boat Festival!

Friday features ‘Marine Triathlon’ on town’s waterfront

Saturday, event moves to River Dunes for all-out Dragon Boat racing!

Chesty Pullers

Chesty Pullers

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

ORIENTAL – The ‘Chesty Pullers’  are one of six all-Marine Dragon Boat teams that will be competing in the Festival’s two days of competition.

On Friday, Oriental will see an all-military ‘triathlon’ like none other, to feature paddle, pedal, and swim events. The line-up includes Dragon Boat time trials in the morning. The hilarious Rickshaw Racing is set for early afternoon, followed by a dramatic swimming ‘rescue’ of inflatable Dragons in the Neuse River.

Rhythm Doctors

Rhythm Doctors

No word yet on how these ‘blow up’ colorful serpents might have found their way to Oriental!

The event concludes Friday evening with music by the Rhythm Doctors

In the center photo, Debbie Schmelty, and her daughter Crystal, are world class Dragon Boat enthusiasts who will oversee Saturday’s formal racing competition, along with Debbie’s husband, Harry.

Debbie and Crystal recently returned from the International Dragon Boat Festival World

Debbie Schmelty, and her daughter Crystal

Debbie Schmelty, and her daughter Crystal

Nation Championships held July 24 – 28 in Szeged, Hungary where “Crystal and I were the only Mother/Daughter duo for steering,” said Debbie.

The two women came back to the U.S. with a veritable boatload of medals: One gold; three silver; and four bronze.

“There were 30 countries competing,” added Debbie. “It was non-stop racing for five days in a row.  Races were 2,000 meters, 1,000 meters, 500 meters and 200 meters.”

View Event Schedule

On Saturday at River Dunes, the Marine teams will be joined by a host of other teams.

View Map of River Dunes location

“The diversity is incredible this year,” said Festival organizer, Flora Moorman. “We literally have paddlers from all walks of life.”

Phil Hobson, owner of the Healthy Habits store in Oriental

Phil Hobson, owner of the Healthy Habits store in Oriental

Phil Hobson, owner of the Healthy Habits store in Oriental, has sponsored a Dragon Boat team to be manned by the ‘Vandemere Firefighters,’ who will be quaffing Hobson’s ‘Lift-Off Energy Drink.’ The tasty, energy-packed beverage is the product of regular bottled water and an effervescent tablet that comes in a variety of flavors.

“We are delighted to be a part of this year’s Festival,’ said Hobson. “Although I will certainly be cheering for the Vandemere Firefighters, my wife Paulette and I will have plenty of Lift-Off for any of the other paddlers. Everyone needs as much energy as possible for Dragon Boat Racing.”

This is the fourth consecutive year for the Oriental Dragon Boat Festival, which typically gives the small waterfront community an economic shot-in-the-arm. Spectators are welcome both days and admission is free. There are several spots open for Dragon Boat Paddlers at a cost of $40 per person – no special skills required. To sign up, send an e-mail to

Oriental Dragon Boat Festival Official Site

Two dozen teams expected for Aug. 9 and 10 Dragon Boat Festival

2013-Dragon-Boat-Logo-SmallBy Flora Moorman | Special to the County Compass

ORIENTAL — This land of dragons welcomes DRAGON BOATS AND DRAGON TAMERS on August 9-10 for the Oriental Dragon Boat Festival. It’s our fourth year for the Dragons splashing and clashing in all the waters of Oriental. The weather last year proved to be almost too much for these amazing long, skinny vessels!

Even in the best of conditions, the low freeboard makes for a wet ride. This year we are not trying to outsmart Mother Nature, but we are adding an opportunity to enjoy two days combined with a unique location that enables our teams to have great racing

On Friday, Aug. 9, we are honoring and celebrating our military men and women with the first of two activity-filled days. Festival organizers want to thank our local “Community Outreach Partners” who are funding fun and relaxation for these US Armed Forces Teams!

Supporting entire teams are: PotashCorp-Aurora; Carolina East Medical Center; Denton Pharmacy/Croakertown Shops; Deaton Boatyards; Yachtsman Canvas and Sail; and, Dr.John and Peggy Weinerth from the Neuse Winds subdivision.

We have many other teams who are calling and would like to participate. On Friday, these military teams will launch our Oriental Dragon Boat Festival with timed trials in preparation for the race on Saturday. Later, in the afternoon, we have 250-meter ‘Rickshaw Races,’ followed by designated swimmers from each team who will rescue ‘Floating Dragons’ from the mighty Neuse River. Friday ends with entertainment (to be announced) and Chinese Fireworks.

Hope_For_The_Warriors-logoIn support of our military troops this year we are partnering with the Hope For The Warriors®. We are honored to bring Hope to the lives of our nation’s heroes and their families;



  • Self
  • Family
  • Hope


River-Dunes-colorOn Saturday, Aug. 10, our beloved ‘Gold Dragon’ steps forward, also known as River Dunes!

Our Festival has desperately needed a better venue in which to race. Early in the season we lost two in-state teams who did not want to paddle again with the chance of capsizing.

Heeding our desire to offer a more protected waterway – thus ensuring the safety of our participants – River Dunes has graciously agreed to provide much of Grace Harbor for Saturday’s Oriental Dragon Boat Activities and Races.

In addition to the venue, River Dunes will participate as the ‘Community Outreach Partner’ for the Heart Works Team this year.

Saturday’s activities begin at 8:45 am with a Parade of Teams, Opening Remarks, and Dotting of the Dragon Eye ceremony. Races begin at 10 a.m. and are expected to conclude about 3 p.m. Great food and entertainment will take place throughout the day with the Awards Ceremony scheduled about 4 p.m.

Go to to see the full schedule of activities on both days. Funding an entire Dragon Boat team as a ‘Community Outreach Sponsor’ is a tax-deductible contribution of just $800. Local citizens who wish to support an individual military man or woman may do so with a $45 donation. Contact Flora Moorman at 252-675-9424 for more information, or e-mail:

Sewer ban lifted in Oriental

orientalBy Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

ORIENTAL – State regulators have ended a moratorium on new sewer hookups in this waterfront community.
Chris Venters, sewer superintendent, announced the good news at a June 20 meeting of the utility’s governing board.

The prohibition on any new wastewater flow came last September, and stymied the town’s newest residents, Bill and Lynn Hines, in their plans to build a home. And, the snafu also pushed back the opening of at least one business in town.

Bay River Metropolitan Sewerage District had no choice but to accept the moratorium after efforts to rehabilitate a faulty infiltration pond proved unsuccessful. The site, located on Orchard Creek Road near the upscale River Dunes community, has since been bypassed – with effluent from Oriental now being pumped to a sprayfield in Arapahoe – roughly 20 miles away.

Three contractors involved in construction of the pesky infiltration pond recently agreed to pay a total of $1 million in damages, although an agreement governing the financial settlement allows the parties involved to claim no fault or liability.

Available capacity within the sewer district remains tight, however. Venters told his bosses last week that a lackluster real estate market has given the utility much-needed breathing room, with fewer residential units coming online than during the boom years. He said a variety of measures, including expansion of the utility’s sprayfield, will be needed to ensure sufficient capacity over the long-term.

Defective sewer pond costs trio of contractors $1 million


Highly touted infiltration process backfires

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

BAYBORO – An engineering firm, a company that analyzes the hydrology of soils, and a construction company will jointly pay Bay River Metropolitan Sewerage District a total of exactly $1 million to settle the sewer system’s claims that a much-ballyhooed infiltration pond – near the main entrance of River Dunes – has not, and will never, operate as promised.

The large basin, constructed almost six years ago, was supposed to serve as a temporary reservoir, allowing wastewater pumped from a state-of-the-art treatment facility in Oriental to gradually seep into the ground.

At the time, state regulators and sewer system experts touted the process as an innovative alternative to traditional disposal methods. Since then, however, infiltration ponds – particularly those planned for mucky soils and high water tables (like much of Pamlico County) – have lost their luster.

Other things have changed too. Back then, the real estate market for waterfront parcels was at a fever pitch.
And, River Dunes, eager to bring its high-end development to fruition, decided to bankroll the District’s expansion.

Page 1 of the eight-page settlement agreement makes the arrangement clear: River Dunes contracted with BRMSD, which contract provided in part that River Dunes would provide funding for construction of significant portions of the Project.

NEWS1-Sewer-pond-jump-pageEarly on, sewer system officials reluctantly concluded that the infiltration pond had problems. Despite desperate attempts to modify and rehabilitate the pesky site, the water level in the massive pond ultimately rose to intolerable levels.

Just over a year ago, the 11-member board of directors for Bay River was forced to come up with Plan B – a costly solution that called for pumping the effluent much further to an existing sprayfield on Hwy. 306 near Arapahoe. And, at the same time, the board got serious about pursuing litigation.

In recent months, miles of underground pipe have been replaced in order to accommodate the high pressures required to move thousands of gallons of effluent each day to the opposite side of Pamlico County.

Monday afternoon in a session off-limits to the general public and to news media, Bay River Metropolitan Sewerage District unanimously approved a deal in which three parties – while admitting no liability or negligence – agreed to reimburse the District in the following amounts:

  • McKim & Creed Engineering $ 575,000
  • Trader Construction $ 325,000
  • Edwin Andrews & Associate $ 100.000

Pipe! Pipe! Pump sewage. Pond won’t perk


And we shan’t get home tonight.

TCC020713001Special to the County Compass

A large ‘infiltration’ pond — off Orchard Creek Road and across from the entrance to the upscale River Dunes residential community – has failed to work properly. As a consequence, Bay River Metropolitan Sewerage District has been forced to upgrade underground transmission lines so that effluent from a wastewater treatment plant near Oriental can be pumped 20 miles westward to a spray field just north of Arapahoe. The $500,000 project should be complete by late March. Thereafter, state regulators will be asked to discontinue a moratorium (in effect since September) on new sewer hook-ups, which continues to stymie several projects in Oriental.

Ban on sewer hook-ups a concern in Oriental

Chris Venters, superintendent of Bay River Metropolitan Sewerage District, met with the Oriental commissioners Tuesday night. Beside him is Debra Khouri, who represents the town of the District’s 11-member board of directors.

Chris Venters, superintendent of Bay River Metropolitan Sewerage District, met with the Oriental commissioners Tuesday night. Beside him is Debra Khouri, who represents the town of the District’s 11-member board of directors.

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

ORIENTAL – Thirty-five years of experience in wastewater treatment came in handy Tuesday night, as Chris Venters, the hands-on superintendent for Bay River Metropolitan Sewerage District, explained why part of the sprawling utility is under a moratorium on new hook-ups – while business as usual applies elsewhere in the county.

Unfortunately for elected officials, the ban on new hookups has its epi-center in Oriental, where at least one commercial project and the planned construction of a home have been derailed.

Venters assured Mayor Bill Sage that “in all probability” the ban will be lifted by late March – the anticipated completion date for replacement of four miles of failing underground transmission lines through which Oriental’s sewage is supposed to be pumped to a sprayfield in Arapahoe.

The entirety of the line is much longer than four miles but other stretches appear to be functioning properly.

Since state regulators imposed the ban in late September, Venters and the 11-member board of directors for the utility have scrambled to secure bank financing for the pipeline improvements.

Adding to the delay was a required bid solicitation for the work, recently won by W.O. White with a quote for the work of approximately $500,000.

Insiders familiar with the operations of the sewer district concede there is much more to the moratorium than meets the eye.

During his public remarks, Venters deftly avoided any discussion of the real culprit — a defective infiltration pond near River Dunes, where treated effluent stubbornly refuses to seep back into the water table.

In recent years, the pesky site has morphed into a six-figure boondoggle that plagues not only the sewer district but also River Dunes, which willingly financed the pond during the heady days of the area’s real estate boom.

Fire engulfs River Dunes


Homes squeezed along marina sitting ducks for fire

river_dunes_fire_1By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

river_dunes_fire_2RIVER DUNES – Horrific, mind-numbing conflagration hit this upscale waterfront community Wednesday night, destroying at least one multi-million dollar home, numerous outbuildings, and for a tense half hour threatened the community’s picturesque one-room chapel – its steeple framed by billowing flames 200 feet high.
river_dunes_fire_3By press time of this newspaper, authorities were unable to determine if the house, which overlooks the resort’s 28-acre marina, was occupied. Officials suggested one or more lightning strikes may have triggered the blaze, although the devastation was so complete that the origin of the fire may never be known. The former showcase home is now little more than ashes.

Numerous firefighters and more than a dozen emergency vehicles responded to the call, which went out shortly before 11 p.m. At 1 a.m. Thursday – two hours after the fire began – dispatchers issued yet another plea for more emergency personnel.


The fire will undoubtedly force River Dunes river_dunes_fire_5Corporation and residents to revisit the master plan for the community, which emphasizes tightly spaced homes in a design known as a planned unit development. Also, the remoteness of the site, flame-fanning winds off the Neuse River, and isolated fire hydrants could spell future disaster as the community attempts to expand its ‘build-out’ over the next two decades.