Connect with us


State of the County 2023 focuses on five key topics, including housing, beach nourishment, and maintaining inlets

Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robert L. “Bob” Woodard Sr. delivered the annual State of the County presentation at Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant in Kill Devil Hills on Wednesday, January 25, 2023. The event—which was able to be held in person rather than virtually for the first time since January 2020 due to COVID-19—was attended by more than 200 people, ranging from representatives of the local real estate, hospitality, tourism and construction industries to a wide array of local, state and federal officials.

A breakfast buffet was provided by Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant before Woodard commenced his presentation, which provided an in-depth overview of five key topics that are currently of the utmost importance to Dare County officials—and that have a significant impact on the people who live and work within the Outer Banks community.

In keeping with the theme of this year’s event—“Caring for the Community: A Place for All to Live and Grow”—the 2023 State of the County presentation touched on the following five issues, and at the conclusion of each topic, Woodard called upon a special guest that has been impacted by the issue being discussed and invited them to share their thoughts and experiences with everyone in attendance.

Essential & Workforce Housing

Woodard kicked off his presentation by highlighting what he deemed to be the Dare County Board of Commissioners’ top priority and Dare County’s most pressing issue: constructing a series of rental housing projects throughout the county where essential members of the local workforce and their families can afford to live.

“The number one priority for us is essential and workforce housing,” said Woodard. “We’re trying to find solutions to make this happen. It’s been difficult, and we’ve been working on this for over two and a half years. Our goal is to ensure that the housing options are available for essential members of our community.”

Woodard told attendees that the county is diligently working toward its current goal of building a total of 400 to 500 units and that contracts have already been finalized with two developers: Woda Cooper Companies and Coastal Affordable Housing.

Woda Cooper Companies will use a combination of tax credits and $9 million in county funding to construct a total of approximately 100 units in Dare County, half of which are currently expected to be constructed at the Bowsertown Road site on Roanoke Island, with the remaining units to be built on another site that has yet to be determined by the developer. Coastal Affordable Housing will use $35 million in funding from the state of North Carolina that has been provided to Dare County for such projects. Woodard also informed attendees that Dare County recently purchased a parcel on Bernice Avenue in Manteo that will serve as the site of a future essential and workforce housing development.

In addition to detailing the progress that has been made on the essential and workforce housing front, Woodard also made a point to dispel any misconceptions that the proposed housing developments will be low-income or Section 8 housing. He emphasized that the people who will qualify for these units—which would range in cost from $900 to $1,800 per month—include members of local law enforcement, teachers, firefighters, EMS personnel and construction personnel, as well as hospital staff, hospitality industry staff, restaurant staff and retail staff, among other fields that are essential to the community.

Following his presentation on the county’s ongoing efforts and the recent strides that have been made to develop essential and workforce housing, Woodard invited special guest Trasa Rossi—who works as a seventh grade exceptional children’s teacher at First Flight Middle School in Kill Devil Hills—to share the challenges she faces when it comes to finding and securing housing within the community where she lives and works.

Rossi moved to Dare County three years ago from Youngstown, Ohio, where she graduated from Youngstown State University with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a special education degree for students in grades K-12. After relocating to the Outer Banks for her position, Rossi was able to secure a rental unit in a local teacher housing complex; however, due to restrictions on the amount of time these units can be rented, she will not have the option of renewing her lease when it ends next summer.

“I currently live in teacher housing; I’ve been there for almost three years now,” Rossi told State of the County attendees. “My three-year lease will be up August 11—and August 11, 2024 is when I either have to find housing or leave the area and my job.”

Knowing that her options are limited when her lease ends and that, due to the shortage of long-term rental housing units available in the area, Rossi has made every effort to plan ahead and save money in the hopes of being able to purchase a home so she can continue to live and work in Dare County.

“I have tried to do a lot of different side jobs to supplement my income in order to have a down payment for a home: I wait tables on the weekends, I have cleaned homes, I’ve tutored, I’ve done summer school, I’ve coached track—and right now, the homes that are on the market are outside of my debt-to-income ratio, and a lot of the mortgages are more than I make a month,” she said.

With current home prices outside her budget despite her extensive efforts to save for a downpayment, Rossi is continuing to search for a rental unit she can afford on her current salary so she isn’t forced to leave the area at the end of her lease.

“I am currently trying to find rental options in the area for when I have to leave teacher housing, and most of the rent that I find is $2,000 or more a month,” she said. “I was very blessed to have the job that I do and to live in this community, and I would love to stay here and continue to be a part of it.”

Beach Nourishment

Following the essential and workforce housing portion of his 2023 State of the County presentation, Woodard highlighted the importance of performing beach nourishment to replenish the sand that is lost due to erosion along the shoreline and also provided an overview of the numerous beach nourishment projects that were completed throughout Dare County in 2022.

“2022 was the year of beach nourishment on the Outer Banks,” said Woodard, noting that beach nourishment projects were successfully completed in the villages of Avon and Buxton on Hatteras Island, as well as the towns of Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk and Southern Shores. The Town of Duck’s project—which had also originally been scheduled to take place in 2022—was rescheduled and is now slated to begin in March 2023.

Since 2011, Dare County has invested a total of $225 million to perform beach nourishment projects, the funding for which comes from a combination of town, state, FEMA and grant funds, as well as the county’s Beach Nourishment Fund, which is funded by a 2 percent portion of the 6 percent Occupancy Tax that is placed on local rental accommodation.

Woodard noted that Dare County’s wide, sandy beaches are not only an “economic engine” due to the millions of visitors they draw to the coastal communities of the Outer Banks each year—they also provide an essential buffer that protects infrastructure, such as N.C. Highway 12, which serves as a vital lifeline for residents, visitors and property owners alike.

Woodard then called on special guest Bill Laricos, a Maryland native and longtime resident of Hatteras Island who serves as an Advanced EMT for Dare County EMS and a captain for the Hatteras Island Rescue Squad. Woodard invited Laricos to share how shoreline erosion and ocean overwash has affected the ability of first responders to aid those in need of assistance due to medical emergencies and other life-threatening situations—and to tell attendees about the positive impact that beach nourishment projects have had when it comes to accessing patients and rendering aid in a timely manner.

“I live in Avon, and my house sits right on Highway 12, so I can look out and see the water coming,” Laricos told the crowd. “We had a beach for many years, and when the beach disappeared, we got to a couple of years where [during] every major storm, every high tide, the water poured through under the houses and onto the highway—and Highway 12 became a lake with probably two feet of water, and it presented a bunch of problems for us.”

Laricos went on to explain how, prior to the beach nourishment project that was completed in Avon in June 2022, Dare County EMS personnel were forced to drive through the overwash on the highway in order to access patients and transport them to the hospital—a process that caused significant delays in rendering aid and potentially reduced many patients’ chances of surviving.

“For EMS, we have an expression that ‘time is tissue,’” Laricos explained. “On critical calls, we need to get patients to the hospital quickly. It’s a matter of survival. Every time we drive north, we have to drive through the water—unless the water is too deep, and then we call one of the fire departments to come with a military truck. We transfer the patient to that military truck and go through the water to another ambulance on the other side and do the trip to the hospital—and it eats up critical time.”

In addition to wasting valuable time during a call that could ultimately mean the difference between life and death for some patients in need of immediate assistance, ocean overwash on N.C. Highway 12 can also cause a significant amount of damage to Dare County EMS vehicles that is quite costly to repair.

“I take responsibility for an ambulance when I start my shift, and that ambulance costs $330,000. That is your ambulance. That’s your money,” said Laricos. “For me to drive that ambulance through the salt water—and it’s pure salt water—every time I go north breaks my heart—and it writes a check for maintenance on that ambulance that you all have to cash.”

Laricos went on to explain how the county’s efforts to widen the beach and provide a bigger buffer between N.C. Highway 12 and the Atlantic Ocean by nourishing 2.5 miles of shoreline in Avon last year has been a game-changer for first responders on Hatteras Island.

“For us, EMS, it was not a matter of convenience; it was not a matter of inconvenience. It was a matter for us of life and death,” he said. “Now that the beach is back, we’re back to normal.”

Maintaining Inlets & Waterways

Woodard’s 2023 State of the County presentation also emphasized the county’s ongoing efforts that are undertaken to ensure various channels and inlets throughout the area remain open and navigable for local commercial and recreational fishermen. Nowhere is the county’s commitment to keeping these waterways open better showcased than the completion of Miss Katie, the 156-foot-long shallow-draft hopper dredge that is tasked with helping to address the shoaling issues that occur within the region.

Miss Katie—which is the result of a yearslong collaboration between Dare County officials and EJE Dredging Service, who owns the dredge—departed from Conrad Shipyard in Louisiana on August 13, 2022, and on Friday, August 19, 2022, she officially arrived in Wanchese, which serves as the dredge’s homeport. From the time she arrived in Dare County through December 31, 2022, Miss Katie had already dredged a total of 103,019 cubic yards of sand from various waterways that have been plagued by shoaling that prevents many vessels from being able to safely navigate some channels and inlets in the area.

“[This project] was unheard of—had never happened before in the United States of America,” Woodard said of the development of Miss Katie. “Who can you count on, folks? You can count on this Dare County Board of Commissioners. That’s who you can count on to get things done and make things happen.”

Woodard went on to explain how Dare County allocates a considerable amount of local funding each year to perform dredging projects within essential waterways, including $3 million for Oregon Inlet and $250,000 for Hatteras Inlet.

“We’re going to keep our inlets open. We’ve made that commitment to our inlets and waterways,” he said. “These are the highways for our fishermen, recreational and commercial. To go to work—just like you and I go to work up and down this bypass out here—that’s what they [use] to go to work.”

Miss Katie operates under the direction of the Oregon Inlet Task Force, which is chaired by Dare County Commissioner Jim Tobin and of which Dare County Commissioner Steve House also serves as a commissioner. Having access to Miss Katie helps put dredging decisions under local control in Dare County and significantly reduces the county’s reliance upon the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the availability of their dredges to assist when shoaling occurs.

Funding for Miss Katie came from a public-private partnership with the state of North Carolina, in which the legislature allocated $15 million from the Shallow Draft Navigation Channel Dredging and Aquatic Weed Fund for the purchase of the dredge, which plays an integral role in keeping Dare County waterways safe and accessible.

To emphasize the impact that maintaining waterways throughout Dare County has on local watermen, Woodard invited Kait Daniels—who is the wife of fourth-generation commercial fisherman Boo Daniels—to share her husband’s experiences with shoaling-related issues and the impact that Miss Katie has had on both her family and the commercial fishing community of the Outer Banks as a whole.

“He is a fourth-generation commercial fisherman from the Outer Banks, so he loves what he does,” Daniels told the crowd about her husband. “He grew up doing this as young as 5, making trips with his dad and his granddad, and he’s very fulfilled by his job. It really brings him a lot of joy. He’s passionate about responsibly bringing in fresh, local seafood to markets. It’s what he loves to do, and as his wife of nearly 10 years, I’m very grateful that he has a job that he loves so much. I wish it wasn’t so risky—that’s why we’re very thankful for the Miss Katie dredge and the work that it’s doing. If Boo were here, he would say that the state of the inlet is better than it has been in several years before the dredge.”

Daniels went on to share how her husband had struggled in the past to safely navigate around the shoaling in Oregon Inlet every time he embarked on one of the approximately 150 trips he takes each year to earn a living and provide for his family.

“He would really need to wait until high tide every trip just to have enough water to float across the bar, and that’s really dangerous. You don’t want to be on the bar when you know the tide’s running and you can’t make it across—and that was something he was facing every time he left home to go fish,” she said. “So thanks to the dredge, he doesn’t have to wait until high tide anymore, which is great because it gives him more flexibility with how often he can go fishing and being able to come in safely when conditions aren’t OK.”

Daniels continued, “He has incurred damage over the years just trying to make it out the inlet. He’s taken waves over the barrel that have cracked his cabin and required a lot of work to be done. It’s really a dangerous living, and he loves it, so I’m very thankful for the dredge. It makes it safer for him to come and go and do his job, and I’m thankful for the [county’s] commitment to keep the dredge going. It’s really vitally important to families like ours.”

Commitment to Education

The next key issue Woodard highlighted during his presentation was the county’s commitment to providing top-notch educational opportunities to students of all ages within the community. Among the many ways Dare County supports local students is the significant financial investment that is made in the staff and students at Dare County Schools each year.

Over 38 percent of Dare County Schools’ budget is provided by county funding, with $22.8 million budgeted to the schools for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. An additional $1.3 million in the county’s budget also makes it possible to provide county-employed school nurses and resource officers at every public school in Dare County, and local per-pupil funding for Dare County Schools has ranked Dare County as the highest for county funding in the state of North Carolina for 19 of the last 20 years.

Following his discussion of the series of dynamic ways Dare County is actively addressing the crisis, Woodard invited special guest Autumn Price—a recent graduate of Dare County’s Recovery Court program who struggled with substance use issues for several years—to share her story and experiences since successfully completing the program in December 2022.

“I actually moved to the Outer Banks about three and a half years ago after a path of self-destruction that landed me in a detox and a rehab,” said Price, who initially moved to the area to enter a sober living environment through a local nonprofit organization called the Oxford House. “I took a Greyhound and had $36 in my pocket. I lived in the Oxford House, took off, loved it, and I thought I was going to stay sober. I crashed and burned [at] 100 days. I relapsed. I relapsed very publicly shortly after speaking on behalf of Oxford House at a Saving Lives Task Force meeting. COVID hit at that point, and I was faced with multiple felony charges.”

Price continued, “I have a textile degree from North Carolina State University for design and textile engineering. At that point, I thought my life was over because felonies don’t allow people like me to have the jobs that I had. My kids were in foster care: I had one that was in care in Columbia, [North Carolina] and two that were in Tennessee. I was being threatened with my parental rights to be taken away. I was couch surfing, hotel surfing and living in a car—until I didn’t have a car—and I was offered the opportunity to go into [Dare County] Recovery Court as a result of my charges. I didn’t really know what to expect because I knew other county versions of Recovery Court, and they didn’t really leave a good taste in my mouth, but I did not want to go to jail, and I knew I wanted to get sober and stay sober. So I entered into Recovery Court.”

Once she entered Dare County’s Recovery Court, Price was offered the support and resources that she needed in order to help get her life back on track.

“I had a great support system, but the support that I found in Recovery Court offered me more stability and more responsibility. It not only taught me ‘don’t drink and drug,’ but it taught me how to communicate effectively what I was dealing with. They gave me resources to discover myself, and they taught me how to be a person without the drugs and the alcohol,” she said. “They taught me how to be a mother. They taught me how to be a friend, and, finally, they taught me how to be an advocate. But there are bad days, and Recovery Court offered me that extra encouragement that I needed to stay on the right path when I was struggling, whether it be with my mental health or with my substance abuse, or because I was missing my kids and didn’t have them, or whatever it may be. Recovery Court was there. The small tokens that we get through the 18 months for meetings—sobriety milestones—may not seem like a lot to most people here, but they meant something to me because somebody’s seeing me as more than just an addict. Someone is seeing me as more than just a felon.”

Since she graduated from Dare County Recovery Court in December 2022, Price has made it her mission to serve as an advocate for others in the Outer Banks community who are struggling with issues that are similar to those she has faced over the years.

“I wanted to show that [Recovery Court] worked. I see a lot of people come in, and they’re on fire like I was, and then they don’t get the results, and they don’t get their kids back, or they struggle with housing or jobs or whatever,” she said. “It’s disheartening because we’re more than our addiction; we’re more than our disease. I wanted to stay on and show people that there was a chance and that it does work if you work it. I finished my 18 months, and then I asked to stay as peer support. It’s been very rewarding. It’s opened up opportunities to me. I’m able to help with the recovery community now, and it’s been a saving grace.”

At the conclusion of his 2023 State of the County presentation, Woodard called the five special guests who shared stories detailing how the five top-priority issues that Dare County is currently tackling have impacted them to join him at the front of the room to be recognized alongside his fellow commissioners.

“Folks, this right here—these five people standing before you this morning—is where this group of men, the Board of Commissioners make it happen. That’s why they do what they do: so that we can produce and help people like this,” said Woodard.

Woodard continued by thanking everyone who attended the annual State of the County presentation and taking a moment to reflect on what he has learned in his role as chairman over the years.

“I want to close with what I’ve learned as chairman. I learned early—and learn every single day—that what we do for Dare County takes a village; it takes people like you sitting in this audience today. We’ve got elected officials here, school board elected officials and municipality elected officials. We have heads of the real estate industry and the construction industry—the list goes on and on. Those of you in this room today are stakeholders, movers and shakers, and you care about Dare County just like the Board of Commissioners cares about Dare County. We’re blessed to be able to live and work in the county that we work and live in. Folks, we’ve got a lot of issues facing us. I could not, once again, be more proud of the 700—almost 800—employees that work for Dare County, as well as the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education. I could not be more proud to live in a county such as ours. God bless each and every one of you here today. Let’s make things happen.”

For more information about the 2023 State of the County event, please visit To view a video of Chairman Woodard’s 2023 State of the County presentation on Dare County’s YouTube channel, click her

Continue Reading


How to Use the 5 Senses — Plus a Secret 6th One — to Catapult Your Brand Experience

mortar presence. Without a strong and consistent brand experience, it would be difficult to attract customers. So what are the individual building blocks of brand experience?

Let’s zoom out for a moment to consider what “experience” actually means. We humans “experience” life through our five senses. Right. Duh. But here’s the catch: Many brands fail to capitalize on all five.

As someone curating the physical experience of your brand, you can more powerfully impact customers by appealing to all five of their senses in your brand strategy. This multi-sensory approach to brand marketing and brand execution is referred to as “sensory branding.”

Let’s take a tour of the five senses from a branding perspective, and look at some ways that brands can expand their use of sensory branding in their brick-and-mortar locations which are, in truth, their theaters of brand experience.

Related: In the Age of Sensory Overload, How Can Brands Define Their Identity?,

Of all the senses, sight gets the most press, but typically the spotlight shines on imagery and iconography. The golden arches of McDonald’s. The green silhouette of the Starbucks mermaid. The kind visage of Colonel Sanders on a bucket of KFC fried chicken. These icons are so indelibly linked to these brands that they’ve permeated our collective imagination.

Let’s instead open up the hood and peek at the color psychology that turns this engine. Just as soft lighting or harsh lighting can drastically alter the mood of a room, colors set the tempo of a branded environment.

The ubiquitous presence of yellow in McDonald’s branding conjures notions of sunshine, warmth and joy, making you think of childhood and smiley faces. The green of Starbucks and Whole Foods suggests robust health and a oneness with nature.

Recommendation: Use color theory to your advantage. Understand what feelings your brand intends to evoke, then deploy colors in your environments like secret agents, tasked with covertly pacing the moods and emotions of yor

The sense of smell — the “emotional sense” — travels a unique pathway into the human brain which connects it deeply to memory. Brands that are successfully married to pleasant scents within their customers’ memories have an added layer of seductive ability.

Consider Abercrombie & Fitch. The garments that fill its stores are drenched in its signature fragrances, creating powerful associations between these fierce, outdoorsy scents and the brand, as well as the lifestyle that’s suggested by the brand.

Upon your escape from the Abercrombie store in the mall, you may be subsequently lured by another powerful scent emanating from Cinnabon. The aroma of cinnamon just happens to be associated with warmth, comfort and perhaps guilty pleasure.

Fitness brands — to be certain — lack this kind of natural olfactory advantage, but there are preemptive measures that can be taken to offset this. For example, a scent diffuser can be employed to pump the energizing smell of eucalyptus into a gym or the relaxing scent of lavender into a spa.

Continue Reading


Want to sound smarter at work? Avoid these 10 pretentious phrases

We all want to seem smart and confident in the workplace, especially when talking to a colleague or boss. But sometimes, the office jargon we use to sound intelligent can come across as showy and annoying.

One in five professionals say they dislike corporate jargon, according to the e-learning platform Preply, which surveyed 1,551 Americans working in-office or remotely. What’s more, the use of business jargon can even be off-putting on a job posting, with 70% of respondents saying seeing it in a job description influences their decision to apply and 20% of professionals saying that jargon in a job description is a red flag.

John Bowe, a public speaking expert, says that professionals can speak with greater impact by avoiding office lingo and other terms which aim to make themselves sound smart.

“The single biggest driver of bad public speaking is the desire to seem smart,” he tells CNBC Make It. “When you make yourself harder to understand, you’re making your listener’s mind work harder. Use simpler words and you’ll have greater impact.”

According to Bowe, here are 10 “puffery” words and phrases to avoid in the workplace.

These phrases can seem pretentious because they aren’t clear and concise — they dance around the real message a professional is trying to get across and can sometimes be misinterpreted.

Take “at this point in time” for example: Bowe says the extra words in this phrase draw attention away from your point. Instead, professionals should opt for brief and straight to the point words, such as “now” or “currently.”

“When time is money, extra words aren’t kind or pleasing — they’re distracting. Nothing shows respect like clarity,” Bowe said in a CNBC Make It article. “Don’t beat around the bush. People will appreciate you more when you say what you have to say.”

Phrases like “30,000 foot view” and “out of pocket” can also be confusing, according to Bowe.

″[Saying] ‘I’ll be out of pocket next week’ instead of saying ‘I’m unavailable’” can be puzzling, he explains. “My understanding is out of pocket is used to refer to expenses that you pay outside of your expense account.”

Ultimately, Bowe says using simple and easy-to-understand jargon will take you much further when it comes to sounding smart at work.

“There’s a great quote from Confucius about clever talk. And he said, basically, smart people don’t indulge in clever talk. They just are brief and to the point.

Continue Reading


Wholesale prices rose 0.7% in January, more than expected, fueling inflation increase

Inflation rebounded in January at the wholesale level, as producer prices rose more than expected to start the year, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The producer price index, a measure of what raw goods fetch on the open market, rose 0.7% for the month, the biggest increase since June. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for a rise of 0.4% after a decline of 0.2% in December.

Excluding food and energy, the core PPI increased 0.5%, compared with expectations for a 0.3% increase. Core excluding trade services climbed 0.6%, against the estimate for a 0.2% rise.

On a 12-month basis, headline PPI increased 6%, still elevated but well off its 11.6% peak in March 2022.

Markets fell following the release, with futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average down about 200 points.

While the PPI isn’t as closely followed as some other inflation metrics, it can be a leading indicator as it measures the first price producers get on the open market.

The PPI increase coincided with a 0.5% jump in the January consumer price index, which measures the prices consumers pay for goods and services. Together, the metrics show that while inflation appeared to be subsiding as 2022 came to a close, it started the year off with a pop.

Economists are attributing the January inflation increase primarily to some seasonal factors as well as payback from previous months that showed more muted price rises. An unseasonably warm winter may have played some part as well, while fuel prices, which are volatile, also jumped during the month.

A report Wednesday showed that consumer spending more than kept pace with inflation, as retail sales increased 3% for the month and were up 6.4% from a year ago.

In other economic data Thursday, the Labor Department reported that jobless claims edged lower to 194,000, a decline of 1,000 and below the Dow Jones estimate for 200,000. Also, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s manufacturing index for February plunged to -24.3, well below the -7.8 estimate.

Fed policymakers are focusing intently on inflation, so the January numbers are unlikely to sway them from their stance that while progress is being made, no letup is likely.

“My expectation is that we will see a meaningful improvement in inflation this year and further improvement over the following year, with inflation reaching our 2% goal in 2025,” Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said in a speech Thursday morning. “But my outlook is contingent on appropriate monetary policy.”

Markets expect the Fed to increase interest rates a few more times this year, according to CME Group data, with the final, or “terminal,” rate ending around a range of 5.25%-5.5%, from its current 4.5%-4.75%.

The PPI increase came amid a 5% rise in energy costs but a 1% decline in food. The final demand index for goods climbed 1.2%, the biggest one-month increase since June. About one-third of that rise came from a 6.2% increase in the gasoline index.

The services index rose 0.4%, pushed by a 0.6% increase in prices for final demand services less trade, transportation and warehousing. Another big factor came from a 1.4% increase in the index for hospital outpatient care.

Continue Reading