Reprinted from the Carteret County News-Times
The Carteret County Beach Commission voted unanimously Monday to elect Atlantic Beach Councilman Danny Navey as its chairperson and learned of the resignation of newly appointed member Ronnie Watson of Emerald Isle.
The meeting was in the Emerald Isle town commission board room and online via Zoom. The commission advises the county shore protection office, which plans and oversees beach nourishment and dredging projects, among other things.
The shore protection office manager is Ryan Davenport. This was his first meeting since the county hired him to replace longtime manager Greg Rudolph, who resigned late last year.
Watson, a resort business owner and former mayor of Emerald Isle, was appointed to one of the two Emerald Isle seats on the board in January by county commissioners, although the town had nominated Jim Normile, a former town commissioner, for reappointment. Normile was chairperson of the beach commission when his term expired.
Tuesday, Watson said he didn’t realize when he sent in an application for the beach commission – because he wanted to get involved in public service again – that he would knock out Normile if appointed.
He also said after reflection since his appointment, he’d realized resignation was the best thing to do considering comments he has heard.
“I hope I’m respected in Emerald Isle,” he said “There were 10 people living here when my family moved here. I love Emerald Isle and I love the county.”
But, he said, since his appointment to the commission, he’s heard “some people have some issues with it. I don’t need any controversy. I don’t want any.”
In the end, Watson said, he realized it was “better for the town” to pick its beach commission representatives rather than the county.
“I love the county commissioners,” he concluded. “This isn’t about them. I just thought it (resigning) was the right thing to do.”
He said he’d called Normile but hadn’t heard back from him.
Watson was the third beach commission member to resign in recent weeks. Longtime member Larry Baldwin, who held a county at-large seat, resigned Jan. 7, and Mike Fiorini of Salter Path, appointed by the county commission at the same time as Watson, resigned as well, citing other obligations.
Monday, the beach commission also reelected John Brodman, mayor of Pine Knoll Shores, to remain its vice chairperson and discussed the vacancies. Brodman told the newspaper he did not want to chair the commission.
The Emerald Isle commission, at its January meeting, nominated the town’s mayor, Jason Holland, to fill Fiorini’s Bogue Banks at-large seat.
But beach commission member Jimmy Farrington, who is a county commissioner, said during the meeting Monday he had talked to Darryl Marshall of Salter Path about taking that seat and Marshall had applied.
Farrington said he spoke to him because that seat has traditionally gone to someone from Salter Path.
“He was born and raised there,” Farrington said of Marshall.
If county commissioners make that appointment, the move would leave Holland to possibly fill the now vacant Emerald Isle seat. Tom Rule holds the other Emerald Isle seat.
The commission is made up of two representatives from Emerald Isle, two from Pine Knoll Shores, two from Atlantic Beach, one from Indian Beach, one from Bogue Banks at-large, one from the county at-large, one from the county commission and one from the Carteret County Tourism Development Authority, or TDA.
That TDA seat is also vacant. It had been held by Woody Warren, an Emerald Isle realtor.
The beach commission agreed during the meeting to think about who to nominate to replace Baldwin, who in his resignation letter said, “The last few months have made it apparent that my participation and majority commission votes are of little to no value.”
Tuesday, Baldwin, a soil scientist who had been on the commission for 12 years, said he resigned because of the county commission’s increasing involvement with the panel, such as rejecting the beach commission’s endorsement of Normile for reappointment after Emerald Isle commissioners nominated him. He said he knew the county board had that right, but believed it made his participation a waste of his time.
“To overturn that (Normile) endorsement, well, I just thought ‘why should I stay on this,’” he said.
He hopes the commission, with its many new members, and the new shore protection office manager will get up to speed fast because the beaches are so important to the county’s tax base and economy.
During the meeting, Navey thanked the board for electing him as chair and said he would do his best to lead the panel in a professional manner.
He acknowledged there has been a lot of turnover on the commission, but added, “We’ll have plenty of time to get to know each other.”
This story is provided courtesy of the Carteret County News-Times, a newspaper published in Morehead City. Coastal Review partners with the News-Times to provide our readers with news of the North Carolina coast.