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Pasquotank awarded $289K grant to buy Newland site for park

Pasquotank has been awarded a state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant that will fund half the cost of purchasing land for a park in the Newland community.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday that the county will receive the $289,000 PARTF grant that will go toward the land acquisition.

The county is going to pay $612,000 to buy a 51-acre site off U.S. Highway 158 that is the former Morgan’s Corner Pulling Park that closed in December 2017. Part of the parcel will be set aside for a future public safety substation and the grant money cannot be used for that.

County Manager Sparty Hammett called the grant award “incredible news.”

“A northern park has been discussed for a long time and a lot of citizens in the northern part of the county are going to be very excited,” Hammett said. “It is something that they have been asking for for a long time.’’

The county has also submitted a grant application to the state Land and Water Conservation Fund that would fund the rest of the purchase price of the land for the park. A decision on that grant is expected in January.

Hammett said Pasquotank will now move forward with purchasing the land using county funds to pay for the other half of the purchase price. If the county is awarded the LWCF grant then that money will be used to reimburse Pasquotank.

“If we get that grant that would essentially pay 100 percent of the parcel dedicated to parks and recreation purposes,” Hammett said.

Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Charles Jordan said receiving the grant was great news.

“We have been looking forward to this and we have been hoping and praying that they would see fit to approve that grant,” Jordan said. “It gives us the opportunity to start to move forward with the project.”

Peace on the Pasquotank: Event honors domestic violence victims

While “safer at home” was the message public health officials hammered home at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Albemarle Hopeline Executive Director Courtney Cottrell notes not everyone who stayed home was safe.

Not because they were unprotected from COVID. Instead, it was because they were in constant proximity to the person who was abusing them either physically or emotionally.

Crisis calls to domestic violence agencies like Hopeline in fact doubled in the second half of 2020, Cottrell said.

Janice Cole, a former U.S. attorney and district court judge, also notes that when many things shut down shortly after the start of the pandemic there was an accompanying increase in isolation, depression, alcohol abuse and stress — and a spike in reports of family violence.

And it wasn’t just here, Cole said.

“It is a problem that is all around the world,” Cole said, noting reports of family violence also rose in places like China, Argentina and Singapore.

Cole was the keynote speaker for Friday’s Peace on the Pasquotank ceremony at Mariners’ Wharf Park. The ceremony, sponsored by Albemarle Hopeline, was held to remember both the victims and survivors of domestic violence. The event also included attendees casting flowers into the Pasquotank River as a symbol of hope and support for those victims and survivors.

First held in 2019, last year’s Peace on the Pasquotank ceremony had to be canceled because of the pandemic. This year’s ceremony also coincided with Albemarle Hopeline’s 40th anniversary providing services to domestic violence survivors in the region. “Everyone Knows Someone” was the theme of this year’s event.

Cole said she became involved as a volunteer with Albemarle Hopeline shortly after moving to the area in 1983.

“Hopeline has done great work over the years,” Cole said.

Cole said she was glad to see representatives from the court system at Friday’s event. She noted Superior Court Judge Eula Reid and Assistant District Attorneys Monique Ferebee and Kim Pellini among those in the audience.

During her remarks, Cole drew attention to the “red flags of abuse” printed in the program for the event. Someone is likely to be in an abusive relationship when the other person in the relationship: puts them down; controls who they see, where they go, or what they do; takes their money or refuses to give them money for expenses; prevents them from making their own decisions; looks at them or acts in ways that are frightening; prevents them from working or attending school; destroys their property; or threatens to hurt or kill them.

Other abusive behaviors include: keeping or discouraging someone from seeing their friends or family; telling them that they are a bad parent or threatening to harm or take away their children; blaming the person being abused for the abuse, or acting like it’s not really happening; threatening to commit suicide because of something the abused person has done; pressuring someone to have sex when they don’t want to; pressuring someone to use drugs or alcohol; preventing someone from using birth control or pressuring them to become pregnant when they’re not ready.

Cottrell said anyone experiencing abuse who needs counseling or a place to stay is encouraged to call Albemarle Hopeline. She said there is no wrong way to deal with abuse, and if someone isn’t ready to tell their story before a judge they should still contact Hopeline for shelter, counseling or other services.

Two $50K Powerball winning tix sold in area

Like everyone else playing Powerball, area residents aren’t having much luck winning the multi-state lottery game’s jackpot, which as of Saturday had grown to $635 million.

They are, however, winning other big prizes connected to the Powerball game.

Last week, two of the three $50,000 prize-winning tickets in Wednesday’s drawing for the Powerball jackpot were sold in the Albemarle.

One $50,000 winning ticket was sold at the Speedway store on Virginia Road in Edenton while another was sold at the Duck Thru Food Store on U.S. Highway 158 in Camden. The third was sold a store in Oak Ridge, in Guilford County.

Van Denton, a spokesman for the N.C. Education Lottery, said Friday that Danielle Jordan of Edenton claimed one of the $50,000 prizes. The winning ticket sold in Camden had not been claimed as of Friday.

Jordan and the Camden and Oak Ridge winners each purchased $2 tickets that matched four of the white balls and the Red Power Ball in Wednesday’s drawing, Denton said. The odds of doing that are 1 in 913,000.

The Camden and Edenton prize-winning tickets in Wednesday’s Powerball drawing were just the latest to be sold in the area.

A little over two week ago, Ronald Statzer, a retired Coast Guardsman from Elizabeth City, won $1 million in a Wednesday Powerball drawing. Statzer won the big prize because the numbers he selected on a Quick Pick ticket from the 7-Eleven on Patrick Way matched all five white balls in the drawing. Lottery officials said his lucky ticket was one of three nationally that matched all five numbers in the drawing.

The odds of matching all five white balls are 1 in 11.6 million, lottery officials said.

Statzer drove to Raleigh Sept. 16 and claimed his prize at lottery headquarters. He took home $707,501 after required federal and state tax withholdings.

Lottery officials said the $635 million Powerball jackpot on Saturday was the game’s sixth-largest ever. The odds of winning a Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292 million, the lottery said.

Adkins cites backlash against biz in decision to resign from council

Second Ward City Councilman Gabriel Adkins said that public backlash against his businesses over his stance on Andrew Brown Jr.’s shooting death five months ago was the reason he decided to resign his council seat Monday.

“Social media posts, nasty emails, just different things and I have just had enough,” Adkins said. “I’m ready to be done with it all.”

Adkins announced via email late Friday his plan to resign his council seat effective Monday at 8 a.m. Adkins owns several businesses, including a funeral home and a catering business.

Adkins has been a vocal critic of Pasquotank County officials since Brown’s fatal shooting by three Pasquotank Sheriff’s deputies on April 24. He said that criticism has affected his businesses’ bottom line, and ultimately led him to decide it was time to walk away from politics.

“The biggest thing is since the Andrew Brown murder, and my stance with that and everything that is happening in the community, my businesses have been suffering because of the position I took with that,” Adkins said. “I haven’t been getting the support from the community that I used to get.’’

Adkins’ resignation came a day after City Council voted 4-2 to terminate Montre Freeman as Elizabeth City’s city manager after only nine months on the job.

Adkins didn’t attend the Sept. 30 meeting where council voted to terminate Freeman after an hour and 15-minute closed session. He also didn’t council’s Sept. 27 meeting, which also included a closed session to discuss a personnel matter.

Adkins said he was shocked that City Council voted to terminate Freeman.

“I didn’t even actually know that was going to happen the way it happened that particular night,” Adkins said.

He also said he would have voted not to terminate Freeman.

“I would have voted to keep him,” Adkins said. “There are things I disagreed with but I believe in giving everybody a second chance. That was my whole stance but I had some things come up where I couldn’t be there.’’

Adkins said he was out of the state for the Sept. 27 meeting and when he returned last week he had close contact with a family member who had tested positive for COVID-19. He said that caused him to miss the Sept. 30 meeting where Freeman was terminated.

Adkins said he reached out to health officials at Albemarle Regional Health Services seeking advice about whether he should attend the Sept. 30 meeting. Adkins said he was told he needed to quarantine.

Adkins said he informed Mayor Bettie Parker and City Council that he was told to quarantine and would miss the meeting.

“They knew Thursday afternoon that I would not be in attendance at that meeting,” Adkins said.

The four councilors who voted to terminate Freeman were Jeannie Young, Chris Ruffieux, Billy Caudle and Michael Brooks. The two who voted against his termination were Mayor Pro Tem Johnnie Walton and Councilor Kem Spence. Councilor Darius Horton also didn’t attend either the Sept. 27 meeting or Sept. 30 meeting. He has not returned a phone message seeking comment.

In his resignation email, Adkins said it was an honor to serve on City Council.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the citizens of this great city for the past four years,” Adkins said in the email sent to Mayor Bettie Parker and other members of City Council. “It is time for me to move on to another chapter in my life and I can no longer serve in this capacity of city government. Best wishes to you all.”

City Attorney William Morgan said Monday he was still researching how Adkins’ seat will be filled. Part of that will include discussing the issue with elections officials, he said.

Under the city’s charter, if a vacancy on council occurs more than 90 days before the first date of filing for the next city election, a special election has to be held to fill the seat. If the vacancy occurs less than 90 days before that date, no special election has to be held.

Emma Tate, director of elections for Pasquotank County, said Monday that the filing period for both the City Council election and Pasquotank Board of Commissioner election will be from Dec. 6-17.

“As it stands, we’re sixty-some days from the start of filing, so we’re well within that (90-day) window,” Tate said. “There will be no special election for that (Adkins’) seat.”

The city election, normally held in October in odd-numbered years, was postponed this year until March 2022 because of the delay in getting U.S. Census data to local officials. City officials need the Census data to redraw city wards so each has a roughly equivalent number of residents.

Managing Editor Julian Eure contributed to this report.

Family displaced by early morning fire

An Elizabeth City family was displaced after an early-morning fire destroyed their home at the River Breeze Mobile Home Park on Saturday.

Crews with the city fire department were dispatched to the mobile home park at 1500 River Road at around 4:15 a.m. Saturday. On arrival, firefighters saw fire coming from both the front and rear of the residence.

The family who lived in the home were inside at the time of the fire but all members safely evacuated, according to a news release from the Elizabeth City Fire Department. One occupant of the home suffered minor injuries and was taken to Sentara Albemarle Medical Center for treatment.

Responding to the fire were 14 members of the Elizabeth City Fire Department, as well as rescue personnel with Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Medical Services and Elizabeth City police officers.

No cause for the fire has been determined. The city fire marshal’s office is in charge of the investigation.