Round-up: DDE and turtles

Jennifer Harriss

A round-up of things from both sides of the Sound…

Destination Downtown Edenton Director Jennifer Harriss said she has recently accepted a position with Vidant as their Development Manager. She begins this new role in July.

“I am proud of DDE and all of you involved in Downtown Edenton. Together, we have accomplished many great things over the years,” Harriss said. “DDE is in a good place both from a leadership and financial perspective and I feel very confident that things will continue to move forward in a very positive way in the future. Thank you all for making Downtown Edenton a better place!”

Assistant District Rotary Governor Connie Jaklic told Hertford Rotary Club Tuesday that an effort is underway to restart the organization’s club in Columbia. The group owns a building currently used by the local Boy Scout Troop. A meeting is planned for next week for those interested in reforming the club.

In related news, Edenton’s Rotary Club is meeting in person again at St. Paul’s Parish Hall. Like many groups, rotary clubs near and far changed their meeting patterns during the pandemic to be safe.

A lot of familiar names are retiring from Chowan County Schools. Our kids favorite music teacher was Nicole Byrd Phelps of Washington County. She taught at DF Walker Elementary, wrote her own musicals and dressed up as Dr. Seuss on occasion. Casey Bass Carnes is retiring. Donna Parks too. Lot of other talented educators too. Wow. Congrats and thank you for your service.

In other news, former Tyrrell County Commissioner Leroy Spivey called; said two soon-to-be Eagle Scouts will be promoted at a ceremony starting at 3:30 p.m. June 19 at American Legion Post 182 in Columbia. Spivey said it has been many years since a Scout has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in the town and county. More on this story will appear in a future edition of the Chowan Herald.

A shout-out to good Samaritans and the Tyrrell Sheriff’s Office – William Gountikas of Plymouth recently posted to Facebook, “After a blow out Saturday (June 5) on the 2-lane part of 64 out of Columbia, we made it to Rodanthe for 10 days. Even though I have to commute to work it will be worth it. Also big shout out to Melissa Spence, deputy sheriff in Tyrrell County. She was on the spot and also to the gentleman and his grandson who stopped and fixed this for me and would not accept any payment; just said, “Do you know Jesus? and my reply was ‘yes’ and told me to ‘pay it forward’ by helping someone else out. That is what this world needs right now.”

A few weeks back, I was traveling back and forth between Edenton and Manteo on I-64 – traffic delays outside Columbia on a hot day… long sigh.

Charter School Executive Director Don McQueen said pending the approval of building permits for renovations needed to open the Elaine Riddick Charter School in a 22,500-square-foot facility in Hertford, the school will start classes Aug. 23. He said 150 students have registered to attend the tuition-free K-3 charter school this fall.

Though the charter school has already been approved by the N.C. Board of Education, in August of 2020 the board approved a one-year delay in opening the school. McQueen said because of complications arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the school did not meet the metrics it needed to open.

The school will be managed by Torchlight Academy, a Raleigh-based charter school where McQueen works.

McQueen said longtime educator Dr. Derrick Allen will serve as the charter school’s principal. School’s website lists as chairperson for the school’s Board of Directors as Diana Powell, CEO/Owner of Justice Served NC, Inc.

In other matters, since I got a new kayak, the turtles living near the old S-Bridge in Hertford have been talking to me about the new bridge that is being built. They are worried that when the new bridge is complete, there will be less than a 50-foot passage and only one path instead of two, partly because pilings are in the wrong place. Turtles believe the Coast Guard is said to require at least a 50-foot passage.

Spurred by the turtles’ concerns, the Perquimans Weekly reached out to NC Department of Transportation to learn more.

“First, and most importantly, no pilings are in the wrong place. All piling shown below have been successfully driven with the exception of the pivot pier fender system piles. These are on hold until the existing pivot pier can be demolished,” said Tim Hass, communications officers for NC DOT Division One.

Hass said the replacement structure will have a 55’-0” wide channel. This is 10” narrower than the existing channel should be as per the 1928 plans. Although the swing span can be passed on both sides while open, the Coast Guard only required one marked channel given the anticipated vessel size and opening frequency, he said.

Turtles will be happy hearing that, though they are still complaining about government overreach and how eminent domain changed the scenery around their home forever.

Turtles asked what’s going to happen to the old S-Bridge, so the newspaper promised to find out more.

Per Saturday’s Perquimans Pirates’ commencement exercises, guest speaker Bruce Gemmill gave a great speech.

Gemmill’s speech was a breath of fresh air. Funny. Not canned, but real. Touching. To see a video of Gemmill’s speech, go to the Perquimans Weekly’s Facebook page. I want to know more about the trench warfare class – Gemmill’s students still talk about that particular lesson.

Gemmill’s speech shared his enthusiasm for teaching, so I think he’s made a difference in the lives of his many students.

And congrats to the Class of 2021 graduates of Columbia and Hyde and Chowan county high schools.

Visit downtown Hertford between 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. June 11 for the first of three Friday Night Strolls as hosted by Historic Hertford Incorporated. There will be live music by Chris and Mandy Whitehurst, games, popcorn, cotton candy, sno cones – even a moon pie eating contest. Looks like a good time all around. Mark your calendars for July 9 and August 13 too.

Lastly, Columbia officials remind residents that grease dumped down sinks and drains causes sewer overflows.

“Most of the sewer backups and overflows that we see are the result of grease,” according to wastewater operartor Kenneth Coleson.

Grease in the sewer system causes problems for residents and businesses, but also causes problems at the town’s wastewater transfer and treatments locations. Grease builds up at these locations causing pumps to overheat and limiting sewer flow. “This cost money and puts an unnecessary strain on the wastewater system,” Coleson says.

Officials ask residents to put oil and grease in collection containers. Also remove oil and grease from kitchen utensils, equipment and food preparation areas with scrapers, disposable towels and brooms. Keep grease out of wash water and place food scraps in collection containers.

Residents are cautioned to not pour oil and grease down drains or to wash fryers, griddles, pots, pans and plates with water until all oil and grease are removed. Also do not use hot water to rinse off surfaces or put food scraps down drains.

“Remember that grease is your drain’s worst enemy,” Coleson says.

Staff writer Miles Layton can be reached at