General News

Pender County Emergency Management hires first female fire marshal

Pender County Emergency Management Director Tommy Batson announced the hiring of Amy Burton as the new Pender County Fire Marshal. She is the first female to fill the role of a fire marshal in the county.

Burton served as the deputy fire marshal prior to her promotion, which was effective May 29. As fire marshal Burton oversees fire safety codes, new construction plan reviews, and fire investigations, and serves as a liaison between the county and the various fire departments within Pender County.

“Amy is a team player and an asset to the emergency management department as well as the county,” said Batson.

Burton grew up in Kinston where her father pastored a church. Her family owns a farm in Jones County. She attended Chowan University as a music major in vocal performance. Her first experience in fire and public safety began as a member of the Wyse Fork  Rescue Squad. She studied to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and took her first paying jobs in Wayne and Jones counties in the EMS units. Burton is also a paramedic.

“I loved the knowledge, just knowing what a person was experiencing and then how to respond,” said Burton of her EMT training.

In 2015 she moved to Wilmington and was employed by the Leland Fire Department. She studied to become a firefighter and rose to the rank of EMS Battalion Chief – the first woman to hold that rank in Leland.

She later worked for New Hanover Medical Center and soon discovered she missed the feel of a small town.

In 2021 Burton was hired as the deputy fire marshal. She served under now-retired fire marshal Mark Haraway.

“I learned so much from Mark,” said Burton. “He is a load of information and experience.”

Burton said she loves the family and small-town feel of Pender County. She believes that as the county grows, so do the opportunities for growth for women who want to join the ranks of fire and EMS.

Burton said her hobbies include driving her Jeep, fishing, enjoying family, friends, and her dog, Mallie.

Pender County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan – Draft Recommendations Available for Public Comment

Pender County, in collaboration with The Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO), is conducting a Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan for portions of Pender County that lie within the WMPO urban boundary.

This Plan’s goal is to identify existing challenges to bicycling and walking, propose a preferred bicycle and pedestrian network to strive for, and lay out the specific policy, program, and infrastructure recommendations.

Public and stakeholder engagement played a vital role throughout the study. The study team collected input from a Steering Committee and the public to draft recommendations that focus on providing safety, better access up and down US 17, and connections to schools, parks, shopping, and medical offices. The Plan also includes research on existing conditions, an assessment of the network, and provides near- and long-term recommendations.

Provide Your Comments!

The draft recommendations are now available for review and open comment. The full report as well as additional information can be found on the Plan’s website at

Comments will be accepted until June 23rd by email, phone, or mail. To provide your comments:

  • Send an email to
  • Leave a voice message by calling (910) 341-3234
  • Mail your comments to
    • Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO)
    • 305 Chestnut Street, 4th Floor
    • Wilmington, NC 28401

Public Engagement Opportunities

Community engagement is crucial for the success of this plan, and the study team encourages residents to spread the word and encourage their friends, family, and neighbors to participate. The Pender County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan relies on a collaborative approach to ensure that it truly reflects the needs and aspirations of the community.

Please check the study website or follow Pender County on Social Media for upcoming public engagement opportunities.

The study team will be hosting various pop-up events to share the draft recommendations and collect comments. Please check the study website for upcoming public engagement opportunities.

Pender County offices closed for Memorial Day observance

BURGAW- Pender County government offices will close Monday, May 29, in observance of Memorial Day.  Normal government office hours will resume on Tuesday, May 30, at 8 a.m.

The Hampstead convenience center will remain open during normal business hours. All convenience sites will operate on their normal schedules.


Pender County Earns National Achievement Award for Beach Clean Project

BURGAW – Pender County and the program Beach Clean, have been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The award honors innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.

“Beach Clean is a continuing project that is a collaboration with the Topsail Island Shoreline Protection Commission, Topsail Beach, Surf City, North Topsail Beach, and Onslow County Tourism,” said Tammy Proctor, Pender County Tourism Director whose department nominated the Beach Clean project for this national honor. “The project is educational for our visitors and residents to keep our beaches, rivers, and waterways clean and sustainable.”

Each year NACo’s Achievement Awards are given in 18 categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services that counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement, and more. Launched in 1970, the program is designed to recognize innovation in county government. Each nominated program is judged on its own merits and not against other applications.

“The Achievement Awards demonstrate excellence in county government and the commitment to serve our residents every day,” said NACo President Denise Winfrey. “This year’s winners represent some of the most innovative and collaborative efforts we have seen in more than 50 years of presenting these awards.”

“In the spring of 2022, Topsail Beach Mayor Steve Smith shared Beach Clean at a conference with a host of other coastal communities,” said Proctor. “The response was overwhelming. I knew then we had a good program.”

The Beach Clean program urges residents and visitors to “Leave No Trace.” They are encouraged to use trash containers, don’t bring glass to the beach, pick up after pets, fill in the holes dug on the beach, and reduce the use of plastics. The program discourages the use of plastic bags on the beach or on waterways. It also discourages the release of balloons on the beach.

“Plastics floating in water look like food to our sea turtles and other animals,” said Proctor. “Regardless if we are residents or visitors, we are all caretakers of our environment.”

For more information about Beach Clean, visit or

Pender County Library adds a seed library at the Hampstead Branch

Pictured in the seed library, left  to right: Teri Ross, Karen Burkett, Kellyn Dwyer-Croop, and Jessi Neal.


HAMPSTEAD – Pender County Library’s Hampstead branch has launched a new seed library. The Topsail Township Friends of the Library received a $1,000 grant from the Pender County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Association (PCEMGVA) for the initial setup of the project. There is a variety of vegetables, herbs, and flower seeds available for Pender County Library patrons to “check out” for free. Patrons may select up to 5 seed packets to take home and plant. To “return” seeds to the library, the public is encouraged to harvest seeds from their crop and donate them back to the seed library.

The goal of the seed library is to promote community, improve local sustainable food sources, and enhance food security.

“A community becomes stronger when they have the knowledge and resources to feed themselves and beautify their home,” stated Karen Burkett, manager of the Hampstead Branch. “We are thrilled to receive this grant and establish this new service.”

A member from the PCEMGVA said that “planting seeds in a garden is a great family activity that gets the kids involved and outside. There is nothing like planting and tending a garden to ‘sow seeds’ of interest in gardening and watching it grow.”

The seed library is housed in a repurposed card catalog cabinet. The labels for the seed library were hand-drawn by Meg McGrew, owner of Elegant Envelopes in Wilmington, who donated her time and talent.

The seed library is open during regular library hours.

For more information or assistance, call Pender County Library’s Hampstead branch at 910-270-4603 during regular business hours.

Pictured in the check presentation, left to right: Joanne Bacci, Darrylin Smith, Mallory Leimone, Joanne Marino, Lynn Rutledge, Nancy Hansing, Pixie Healy, Marian Chuda, Liz Piacenza, Steve Johnson, Karen Burkett, Nancy Parr-Ash, Betty Utley, Ann Mozo, and Linda Harris.

DEQ to hold public input sessions on Flood Resiliency Blueprint

RALEIGH –The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will hold three public engagement sessions in June to receive input on how flooding, flood mitigation, and resiliency impact North Carolina communities. Public input will assist DEQ in developing the North Carolina Flood Resiliency Blueprint alongside over 100 technical advisors representing Federal, State, County, Municipal, and Tribal governments, non-governmental organizations and universities.

All three sessions will take place in early June. Meeting dates and locations are as follows:

Public Input Session: New Bern

When: 4-7 p.m. Thursday, June 1, 2023
Where: 203 S. Front St., New Bern, NC 28560


Public Input Session: Lumberton

When: 4-7 p.m. Thursday, June 8, 2023
Where: 1702 West 5th Street, Lumberton, NC 28358


Public Input Session: Wilmington

When: 4-7 p.m. Friday, June 9, 2023
Where: 230 Government Center Drive, Wilmington, NC 28403

Spanish interpretation services will be available at all meetings.

The Flood Resiliency Blueprint is a statewide initiative to develop an online-decision support tool and associated planning to address flooding for communities in North Carolina’s river basins. The Blueprint will accomplish several key goals, including:

  • Develop community and basin-specific risk management processes to identify and address flooding for NC communities;
  • Develop an online decision support tool which seamlessly guides state, county, municipal, and other jurisdictions to identify and select flood mitigation strategies responsibly, systematically, equitably, and transparently; and
  • Establish a repeatable, statewide methodology for prioritizing, and selecting flood mitigation strategies for future implementation.

More information about the Blueprint is available online.

Rabies Warning from Pender County Health Department

Don’t handle wild animals, strange dogs or cats

ROCKY POINT – Pender County Health Department has confirmed a second case of rabies since March in the Rocky Point area.

 Rabies is a viral disease that affects the nervous system of mammals. The virus can be transmitted through a bite or by contact with the tissue in your nose, mouth, and eyes. Symptoms of the disease may occur from 2 weeks to 6 months after exposure. Rabies is fatal once symptoms occur. In Pender County, rabies has also been found in raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes.

In the warmer months, we spend more time outdoors. To protect yourself, your family, and your pets from exposure to rabies:

  • Do not feed or attract wildlife. Some changes in behavior that are common in

rabid animals: nocturnal animals that are seen during the day, animals that are not

afraid of humans, become aggressive, and attack other animals or people for no

reason may have paralysis of the limbs or throat or lying down.

  • If you find a raccoon or other wild animal in your yard during the daytime and

the animal appears to be either sick or aggressive, do not touch or attempt to

control the animal. Call Animal Control at 910-259-1349, and report the animal


  • To protect your pets, keep your pets in your yard or indoors, and their rabies

vaccinations current. A current vaccination is required by law. If your unvaccinated

pet comes in contact with a rabid animal, your pet will be impounded and will be “put

to sleep.”

  • If your dog or cat fights with a wild animal, such as a raccoon, or a stray dog or cat,

call animal control. If the attacking wild animal is captured it will be tested for

rabies. All dogs or cats that bite a person will be under observation for 10 days.

  • If your pet is bitten by a potentially rabid animal use gloves to handle the

the pet, or cover the pet with a cloth or towel, and keep children away from the pet. Take the pet to your veterinarian.

  • If you are bitten by a stray dog, cat, or wild animal, you should immediately

wash the area where you were bitten with soap and warm water for at least 15

minutes. Secondly, contact your family doctor or go to the nearest emergency

room.  Some bites may require you to take an antibiotic.  All bites require an

updated Tetanus. Your doctor will call Animal Control and the incident will be

investigated by an Animal Control Officer.

Pender County Tourism Moves Travel Forward This National Travel and Tourism Week

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the annual industry celebration

BURGAW — National Travel and Tourism Week, (NTTW) the annual celebration of the contributions of the U.S. travel industry, will spotlight the essential role that travel will play in driving economic growth and innovation through the theme #TravelForward.

Pender County Tourism is celebrating by spotlighting its tourism-related businesses at the I-95 South Welcome Center.

“The travel industry fuels every industry—our industry’s success is the nation’s success,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman. “This week is a prime opportunity to elevate the message that travel is essential to moving America’s economy forward.”

Established in 1983, NTTW is an annual tradition to mark the U.S. travel industry’s role in stimulating economic growth, cultivating vibrant communities, creating quality job opportunities, stimulating business activity, and elevating the quality of life for everyday Americans.

Travel serves as a catalyst for a productive U.S. economy and helps power the success of other industries. The U.S. travel industry generated a $2.6 trillion economic output in 2022 and supported 15 million jobs, fueling communities, small businesses, and working families across the country.

The tourism industry directly employs more than 924 in Pender County, generating a payroll of $37.1 million.

Travel spending also generated nearly $160 billion in federal, state, and local taxes in 2022—revenue that helped fund critical public services while saving each U.S. household an average of $1,270 in taxes.

The state tax revenue generated in Pender County totaled $6 million through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income. Approximately $8.9 million in local taxes were generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and tourism-related businesses. The local taxes generated by tourism in Pender County are significant because it equates to a savings of $243.32 per resident in Pender County.

“Travel is at the heart of Pender County and Topsail Island, powering a strong U.S. economy, creating jobs, and strengthening our community’s culture and identity,” said Tammy Proctor, Pender County Tourism director. “This National Travel and Tourism Week, we are proud to celebrate all that travel does for our community now, and all that it will contribute in the future.”

Please visit to learn more about National Travel and Tourism Week.

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