Pender EMS & Fire, Inc. receives new ISO Rating after state inspection

BURGAW- Pender EMS & Fire Director Everett Baysden announced the agency and the six districts Pender EMS & Fire, Inc. cover received an ISO Rating of 3 following routine state evaluations.

“The North Carolina Response Rating System (NCRRS) grades departments on a scale of 1-10,” explained Baysden. “Ten is the worst rating in which a department is not recognized as a certified department, and the state rarely awards ISO Ratings of 1. An ISO rating of 3 for a rural department like ours is very good.”

Pender EMS and Fire had last earned an ISO Rating of 5.

The NCRRS inspection includes evaluation of proper staffing levels, sufficient equipment, proper maintenance of equipment, communications capabilities, and availability of a water source.

“I’d like to congratulate Chief Baysden for the department’s performance and for the hard work of all the department members,” said North Carolina Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey. “The citizens of this district should rest easy knowing they have a fine group of firefighters protecting them and their property in case of an emergency.”

Baysden said the improved ISO Rating will help commercial properties in the department’s six districts with savings on insurance premiums. The new ISO Rating is effective May 1.

State law requires the state fire marshal officials to inspect departments serving districts of 100,000 people or less, which makes up all but 12 of the state’s fire districts.

DEQ accepting comments on Draft Permit for Project to Substantially Reduce PFAS Entering the Cape Fear River

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is currently accepting public comments on a draft discharge permit for a proposed groundwater treatment system at the Chemours facility that would substantially reduce PFAS entering the Cape Fear River via contaminated groundwater.

Since 2017, Chemours has been prohibited from discharging PFAS-contaminated wastewater from its plant operations into the Cape Fear River.  However, historic operations at the facility have caused significant groundwater contamination at the site.  Currently, this heavily contaminated groundwater flows untreated to the Cape Fear River.  This groundwater may contribute over 60% of the PFAS flowing from the facility to the river.  Without intervention, this untreated groundwater will continue to contaminate the river and downstream water supplies for years to come.

The Consent Order requires Chemours to address this contamination by installing an underground barrier wall that will run more than a mile alongside the Cape Fear River.  This wall will intercept contaminated groundwater from the facility before it reaches the river and a series of extraction wells will pump the captured groundwater to a treatment system.  The draft permit requires that the treatment system remove at least 99% of PFAS from the pumped groundwater before it enters the river.  Without this treatment system and accompanying discharge permit, this heavily contaminated groundwater would continue to flow to the river untreated.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has received a number of comments on the draft permit since it was released for comment.  Some comments and recent reports have mischaracterized the draft permit as authorizing an “increase” in the PFAS discharge to the river.  This is incorrect.  Treating the contaminated groundwater currently flowing untreated into the river will result in a significant reduction of PFAS contamination.  When operational in Spring of 2023, the barrier wall, extraction wells, and treatment system will intercept and substantially reduce the largest current source of PFAS from the facility impacting the Cape Fear River and downstream communities.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality welcomes comments on the draft NPDES permit.  All comments received by May 2, 2022, will be considered before final action on the draft permit.

Send email comments to with ‘CHEMOURS’ in the subject line.

Or by mail to Wastewater Permitting, Attn: Chemours Permit,

1617 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C., 27699-1617.

Community feedback sought to identify Cape Fear and Albemarle regions’ community climate hazards

Regional Resilience Portfolio Program workshop will offer local support for growth and stability

RALEIGH, N.C. – Community members from the Cape Fear council of government regions (Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties) and the Albemarle council of government regions (Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hyde, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell and Washington counties) are invited to attend an online public workshop to discuss and identify locations that are subject to damage or loss due to climate hazards. Workshop attendees will also be provided an opportunity to share personal experiences with disaster preparedness and recovery. An initiative of the Regional Resilience Portfolio Program, the workshop is an opportunity for residents to provide direct input on the development of a regional vulnerability assessment. The assessment will be released for public comment before it is finalized and used to create a portfolio of priority community resiliency projects.

The Regional Resilience Portfolio Program is a component of the larger Regions Innovating for Strong Economies & Environment (RISE) Program. RISE is a partnership between the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR) and N.C. Rural Center, in collaboration with the N.C. Councils of Governments.

The Regional Resilience Portfolio Program serves the following council of governments regions: Kerr-Tar, Upper Coastal Plain, Albemarle, Mid-Carolina, Mid-East, Lumber River, Cape Fear, Eastern Carolina and Triangle J (except for Wake, Durham and Orange counties). A list of counties for each region can be found on the RISE website, along with a program kickoff announcement.

Members of the public who wish to attend the April virtual meetings should follow the steps below to register online for one of the workshops:

Cape Fear Council of Governments Region Public Workshops
April 7, 10 – 11 a.m. and 6 – 7 p.m.
Register at:
Deadline: April 6

Albemarle Commission Region Public Workshops
April 7, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
April 8, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
April 9, 10 – 11 a.m.
Register at:
Deadline: April 6

RISE is funded by a $1.1 million U.S. Economic Development Administration grant, with support from both NCORR and N.C. Rural Center. The Duke Energy Foundation has committed $600,000 to offer Accelerator Grants to the regions for priority projects identified as an outcome of the program. RISE is managed by NCORR, a division of the N.C. Department of Public Safety. To learn more about the program or what’s happening in each council of government region, visit the RISE website.


Sealed Bids for construction of the Scotts Hill Elevated Tank and Wells including all related work as shown and specified in the contract documents will be received by Pender County at 605 East Fremont Street, Burgaw, NC until 10:00 a.m., (Local Time) on May 3, 2022 and then publicly opened and read aloud.  Click here to see the full Invitation to Bid.  

The Contract Documents may be examined at the following locations starting March 28, 2022:

  • Associated General Contractors office – Raleigh and Wilmington, NC
  • McGraw-Hill Construction/Dodge office – Wilmington, NC
  • PENDER COUNTY UTILITIES, 605 East Fremont Street, Burgaw, NC 28425
  • CDM Smith, 5400 Glenwood , Suite 400, Raleigh, NC 27612

Contract Documents are available for examination online at

Copies of the Contract Documents may be obtained at the Issuing Office, attn Joanne Bunch, CDM Smith, 5400 Glenwood Ave., Suite 400, Raleigh, NC 27612 (919-325-3500) upon payment of $200 for each set non-refundable of the Contract Documents.

A virtual pre-bid conference will be held at 10 am on April 12, 2022. The Engineer will make contact with all parties recorded as having received the Contract Documents and provide invitations to the virtual meeting. Attending this pre-bid conference is strongly encouraged.

Each Bid must be made on the blank forms provided in the bound copies of the CONTRACT DOCUMENTS and must be enclosed in a sealed envelope and addressed to the Public Utilities Director of Pender County. The name and address and the NC Contractor’s License Number of the Bidder must be plainly written on the outside of the envelope, and the envelope marked “Bid for the Pender County Elevated Tank and Wells”. Further requirements for bidding are noted in the unabbreviated Notice to Bid provided in the Contract Documents.

All Contractors are notified that North Carolina Statutory provisions as to licensing of Contractors will be observed in receiving, reading and awarding the Contracts. The License Classification shall be Unlimited.

The Owner reserves the right to reject any Proposal for failure to comply with any requirements of the unabbreviated Notice or of any of the Contract Documents; however, it may waive any minor defects or informalities at its discretion. The Owner further reserves the right to reject any and all Proposals or to Award the contract, which in its judgment is in the best interest of the Owner.

Pender County reserves the right to reject any/all bids.

Blueberry update: Surviving the freeze

By Mark Seitz
Pender County Extension Director
Field Crops / Commercial Horticulture Agent

As the NC Blueberry Festival looks to return in 2022 Mother Nature deprived area blueberry (and strawberry) growers of sleep over night. This is the second major cold front this month with one coming earlier in the month. Both events required farmers to stay up all night, or sleep in their trucks, to monitor the irrigations systems used to protect the blossoms.

While blueberry farmers use irrigation, most strawberry farmers use row covers to protect their plants. However, like people strong winds and cold air bring wind chill and any blooms that were touching the covers froze or the covers did not trap heat from the soils as well as they would in calm conditions. Freeze damage from the early March storm in both strawberries and blueberries is estimated at 5 to 10 percent where blooms were present. Thankfully, blossoms in many of the blueberry varieties had not yet opened at so it is assumed that the freeze damage was limited to early blooming varieties.

Today’s weather dropped temperatures in the region into the mid to upper 20’s. Thankfully the wind died down early Sunday evening, leading to calm, cold field conditions, which created almost ideal conditions for successful freeze protection. As the winds die off, the temperatures drop but those conditions give the overhead irrigation systems the ability to uniformly cover the bushes in a more uniform manner.

But doesn’t ice make things cold? Yes. Intuitively we think of ice making things cold. But when it comes to protecting blueberry blossoms, ice is good. The system is based on the science of thermodynamics. As the warm (45°F-50°F) water cools it forms ice. But before it does, there is an exchange of heat at the surface of the blossom as the water cools down to 32°F. That thermodynamic heat transfer keeps the surface of the blooms from freezing as long as the water continues to flow. If it stops, all the benefit of the cooling water goes away and the blooms freeze. So, farmers stay up all night to make sure their sprinklers do not freeze and pipes do not burst.

Similar impacts affected area wheat fields but we cannot frost protect wheat. In the early March freeze, a lot of the wheat seed heads had not emerged from the whorl (stem) of the plant. That gave them a measure of protection, thereby liming the frost/freeze damage. However, warm weather in the following two weeks has pushed the growth of much of the wheat forward so today’s (3/28) freeze could result in significant freeze injury. That damage typically does not appear for five to seven days after the injury so it is too early to predict what impact this freeze will have on wheat farms. Those assessments will be done later this week.


10 Things to Know as NC Primary Election Season Begins

10 Things to Know as NC Primary Election Season Begins


Raleigh, N.C. — This week, county boards of elections across North Carolina began sending absentee-by-mail ballots to registered voters who requested them for the May 17 primary and certain municipal elections. The following are 10 things to know as the 2022 mid-term primary election approaches.

  1. In the primary election, voters will select nominees for a political party to move on to the November 8 general election. Contests on the ballot include U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, N.C. General Assembly, state and local judges, district attorney, and county offices. In primaries, voters affiliated with a political party will be given a ballot of candidates for their party. Unaffiliated voters may choose the ballot of any party that has a primary. Libertarians do not have any primaries this year. More information: Upcoming Election. Voters in approximately 30 municipalities across the state will also go to the polls to elect mayors and city/town council members. These municipal elections occur at the same time and on the same ballot as the primary contests for the general election. To find out if your municipality is conducting an election on May 17, visit the State Board’s Local Voter Tool.
  2. For voters eligible to vote in 2022 primary and municipal elections, sample ballots are available through the State Board of Elections’ Voter Search tool. Voters also may check their registration status, Election Day polling place and additional information about their voting record using the Voter Search.
  3. Voters who have requested absentee-by-mail ballots should receive them soon. In North Carolina, any eligible voter can request, receive, and vote an absentee ballot by mail. More information: Vote By Mail.
  4. Registered voters may request a ballot online at the North Carolina Absentee Ballot Portal. Voters may also submit a ballot request by filling out the English N.C. Absentee Ballot Request Form for 2022 (PDF), the English N.C. Absentee Ballot Request Form for 2022 (non-fillable print-only PDF), or Spanish N.C. Absentee Request Form for 2022 (PDF), and returning it to their county board of elections. Voters who submit the request form, instead of using the State Board’s website, must submit the form by mail or in person. They may not submit the request form via email or fax. The absentee ballot request deadline is May 10.
  5. Overseas, military, and visually impaired voters may request, mark, and return their ballots through the State Board’s accessible portal.
  6. By-mail voters in 2022 must once again have their ballot witnessed and the return envelope signed by two individuals or a notary. For 2020 only, because of the pandemic, the witness requirement was reduced to one.
  7. By-mail voters may track their ballot using a service called BallotTrax. Sign up at BallotTrax: North Carolina. More information: Ballot Tracking Available Again for Absentee By-Mail Voters.
  8. The regular voter registration deadline for the May 17 primary election is April 22. Individuals who miss the deadline may register and vote at the same time during the in-person early voting period. More information: Registering. Registered voters may not change their party affiliation after the voter registration deadline, and they may not change their party affiliation at an early voting site.
  9. The in-person early voting period for the 2022 primary begins Thursday, April 28, and ends at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 14. Voters may cast a ballot at any early voting site in their county. Early voting sites and schedules are available at the One-Stop Early Voting Site Search. See the PDF version of all sites and schedules. More information: Vote Early in Person.
  10. Election Day is May 17. Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. More information: Vote in Person on Election Day.

Pender County to host Business Expo

BURGAW – Pender County Tourism will host an upcoming 2022 Pender County Business Expo.

The Pender County Business Expo is scheduled for Tuesday, May 24 from 10 am to 6 pm and will be held in the Gymnasium and Family Life Center of the Hampstead United Methodist Church located at 15395 US-17, Hampstead.

“This one-day event will allow networking with area businesses and professionals along with a vendor trade show for the promotion of products and services of participating businesses,” states Tammy Proctor, Pender County Tourism Director. “This will be a convenient event for residents to learn about the goods and services located here in Pender County, a one-stop-shop for available services for all residents.”

Pender County’s first Annual Business Expo will provide an opportunity to showcase many area businesses, services, and products all in one place. The event will include promotional materials, giveaways, and door prizes.

“The Business Expo is open to all area businesses and supporting chamber members for participation as a vendor for the event,” states Stephanie Key, Pender County Tourism assistant.

The community and area professionals are invited to attend. Free admission for the public.

For more information about becoming a vendor and booth space contact the Pender County Tourism office at 910-259-1278 or email

Statement of Qualifications sought for Design-Build Services of Pender County Health and Human Services Facility, Request for Qualifications # 220318-224

Pender County Health and Human Services is soliciting Statements of Qualifications (SOQs) from qualified Design-Build teams interested in providing professional design and construction services for construction of a multi-story Health and Human Services Facility in the Burgaw Township of Pender County.  The County is preceding this project with a qualification process (this RFQ) to determine and approve interested and competent Design-Build teams.  This project shall have a substantial completion date no later than July 1, 2025.  Click here to view RFQ # 220318-224.  You are encouraged to email with an intent to provide a SOQ so that you will be added to a mailing list for updates.  Any questions or clarifications needed should also be submitted in writing to by April 15th, 2022 at 12pm.  The deadline for SOQs is May 6th, 2022 at 12pm.  Qualification documents shall be sent to 805 S. Walker St. #1578, Burgaw, NC 28425 to Attention: Trisha Newton.  Pender County reserves the right to reject any and all submissions.


RFQ # 220318-224, HHS Facility – Addendum 1 has been issued to Answer Questions.  The prior space needs study has been added as Appendices A, B, C and D:

Appendix A: Pender County HHS – Final Report (Adobe pdf)

Appendix B:  Pender County HHS 11×17 – Final Report (Adobe pdf)

Appendix C:  Pender County HHS Programming Workbook – Option 1 (Excel File .xls)

Appendix D:  Pender County HHS Programming Workbook – Option 2 (Excel File .xls)



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