Pender County’s Creswell authors shark book

BURGAW – W. Clay Creswell, an environmental services employee in the Pender County Health Department, is the author of a new book to be released June 14, entitled “Sharks in the Shallows, Attacks on the Carolina Coast.”

“I’ve been interested in sharks since I was a child,” said Creswell, who started working in the county health department in 2002. “I wanted to live by the ocean and Pender County was my first choice.”

Creswell’s lifelong interest in sharks landed him the title of the North and South Carolina region shark-bite investigator for the Shark Research Institute Global Shark Attack File. In his free time, he has been an investigator of shark bites since 2004.

“Shark attacks are extremely rare,” said Creswell. “However, sometimes we hear of a case and we start looking for information. We talk with the victim, the police on the scene, the hospital staff, and witnesses.”

Creswell said “Sharks in the Shallows” explores the rarity of shark attacks as well as what triggers a shark to bite.

“Sharks play a quality role in our ecosystem,” said Creswell. “They maintain the population of fish, reptiles, and mammals as well as feed on carcasses in our waters.”

Sharks should be respected, explains Creswell, who added that his new book is also a guide to reducing the risk of encountering sharks at their peak times.

“Sharks should not be feared, but they should be treated like any other wild species,” said Creswell. “They can be unpredictable and dangerous.”

Creswell said he started writing “Sharks in the Shallows” more than four years ago. He spent two years writing “off and on” but the publishing process took more than two years. The book was reviewed by two panels, including peer reviews before going to print.

“I was impressed with the integrity of the peer reviews,” Creswell said.

Reviews included Ralph S. Collier, the president and founder of the Shark Research Committee, and Daniel C. Abel, author of “Shark Biology and Conservation.” Dean W. Fessler, Jr. the deputy director of The Shark Research Institute called Creswell’s book “Jawsome!”

“Sharks in the Shallows,” published by the University of South Carolina Press, will be available June 14 from Amazon, Barnes and Nobles,, and local bookstores.

NC Attorney General Josh Stein and the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners unveil historic agreement in the fight against the opioid epidemic

RALEIGH — Attorney General Josh Stein and the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners today unveiled a historic agreement to fight the opioid epidemic. The agreement governs how North Carolina would use the proceeds of any future national settlement or bankruptcy resolution with drug distributors Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen and opioid manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and Purdue Pharma. These potential settlements and resolutions could bring as much as $850 million to North Carolina over an 18-year period to support state and local efforts to address the epidemic.

“The opioid epidemic, in recent years, has taken the lives of more than 16,000 North Carolinians, torn families apart, and ravaged communities from the mountains to the coast,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “These companies helped to create and fuel this epidemic with irresponsible marketing and a lack of oversight – and they must be held accountable to help clean up this mess. I am working hard, along with fellow attorneys general across the country, to do just that. Should we prevail, today’s agreement between the counties and the state is an important step toward getting much-needed resources to communities across North Carolina as they work to address the epidemic and its aftermath.”

“The opioid epidemic has had a devastating impact on all 100 counties. We all know someone personally affected by this heartbreaking crisis, and local governments remain on the front lines of this epidemic, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. This historic agreement will ensure potential opioid settlement funds coming into North Carolina get to people in need quickly and effectively. I, along with our NCACC Board of Directors, urge all counties and our municipal partners to sign this groundbreaking agreement as soon as possible,” said NCACC President Ronnie Smith, Chair, Martin County Board of Commissioners. The agreement is endorsed by the NCACC Board of Directors, which adopted a resolution in support of the agreement urging all 100 counties and municipal partners to sign on to it without delay.

“The increase in opioid overdoses we saw during the COVID pandemic is a stark reminder that we need strategic, long-term investments to fight the disease of addiction,” said Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “This agreement provides needed funding for local partners to implement strategies in North Carolina’s Opioid Action Plan that prevent overdoses and save lives.”

To maximize funds flowing to North Carolina communities on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, the agreement would direct settlement funds as follows:

  • 15 percent to the state, which the General Assembly would appropriate to address the epidemic.
  • 80 percent to local governments, including all 100 counties and 17 municipalities.
  • An additional five percent to an incentive fund to encourage counties and large- and medium-size municipalities to sign on to the agreement.

In addition, the agreement offers a high level of transparency into how local governments will use the funds, including special revenue funds subject to audit, annual financial and impact reports, and a public dashboard showing how they are using settlement funds to address the epidemic.

The state of North Carolina, 76 counties, and eight municipalities are engaged in litigation with or investigations of opioid manufacturers and distributors. All 100 counties – along with large- and medium-size municipalities – will now have the opportunity to review and sign on to the agreement.

Click here to access a one-pager on this topic.

Click here to access an FAQ on this topic.

Click here to access the memorandum of agreement.

Gov. Cooper issues Executive Order to relax the state’s outdoor mask mandate and ease mass gathering limits

State continues to strive to get two thirds of adults at least partially vaccinated

RALEIGH: Today, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. gave an update on the state’s current data, trends and vaccination progress. As the state’s metrics and key indicators remain stable, Governor Cooper also signed an Executive Order outlining safety measures for the month of May. Executive Order No. 209 will take effect April 30 and is set to expire June 1. As more North Carolinians get vaccinated and adhere to safety protocols over the course of the next month, the state anticipates lifting more restrictions on June 1.

“While our numbers are mostly stable, we have more work to do to beat back this pandemic,” said Governor Cooper. “Let’s work hard in May and get as many people vaccinated as we can before summer gets here.”

Under the new Executive Order, masks will still be required indoors but are no longer mandated outdoors. Masks are still strongly recommended outdoors by NC DHHS in crowded areas and higher risk settings where social distancing is difficult.

Executive Order No. 209 will also increase mass gathering capacity limits. The number of people who may gather indoors will increase from 50 to 100 and the number of people who may gather outdoors will increase from 100 to 200. Occupancy limits currently in place will remain the same.

“Fortunately, we now have enough vaccine for everyone. They are free and widely available across the state. In many places you don’t need appointment,” said Secretary Cohen. “For those who have questions, I encourage you to go to to learn about the benefits of the vaccines, potential temporary reactions you might experience, and answers to common questions.”

North Carolina continues to focus on distributing vaccines quickly and equitably. To date, the state has administered over 7 million doses. 48.7% percent of those 18 and up are at least partially vaccinated, and 39.2% percent of those 18 and up have been fully vaccinated.

State health officials are continuing to monitor COVID-19 and its more contagious variants in North Carolina, which is why it is important to continue to follow the state’s mask mandate and continue to practice safety precautions, including the Three Ws—wear a mask, wait 6 feet apart, and wash hands often.

Dr. Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s data and trends.

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days
• North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is level.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days
• North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is level.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days
• North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is level.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days
• North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is level.

In addition to monitoring these metrics, the state continues to respond to virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.

Read Executive Order No. 209.

Read Frequently Asked Questions.

View the slides from today’s briefing.


Grant will provide $4,000 for books to Hampstead Pediatric office

Front row, left to right: Adrianna Loppy, Pam Madison, Karen Burkett, Dr. Ashok Jain, Dr. Sharon Burke, Daniel Drake, Kristin Bedford; Back row, left to right: Karen Gladden, Teeanna Lunsford, Allen Phillips Bell


BURGAW – Pender County Library has been in a partnership with Reach Out and Read for the past several months. The library system’s Hampstead branch sends literacy resources and the library’s monthly activities and events calendar to Reach Out and Read partner sites. In addition, Pender County Library has provided donated children’s books to the Reach Out and Read partner site, KidzCare Pediatrics in Hampstead.

“The sites absolutely love having the gently loved books to share with older siblings,” says Gail Phillips, program manager for Reach Out and Read.

Karen Burkett, manager at the Hampstead branch of Pender County Library, was thrilled to discover that Reach Out and Read had a partner site in Hampstead. She had previously attended a library conference where a Reach Out and Read national board member, Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, spoke about the critical importance of parents reading aloud to children from birth. Dr. Navsaria is a pediatrician working in the public interest blending the roles of physician, occasional children’s librarian, educator, public health professional, and child health advocate. When Burkett, a member of Coastal Pender Rotary Club, was asked by fellow Coastal Pender Rotarian Kristin Bedford, if there was anything Coastal Pender Rotary Club could do to support early childhood literacy, her first thought was Reach Out and Read. Coastal Pender Rotary Club voted quickly and unanimously to provide $2,000 immediately to help fund books for the children. A matching challenge grant that Reach Out and Read has received brings a total of $4,000.

Reach Out and Read helps integrate reading into pediatric practices, advise families about the importance of reading with their children, and share books that serve as a catalyst for a healthy childhood. At participating locations, doctors and nurses encourage parents to read aloud to their young children, offer age-appropriate reading tips, and prescribe new, culturally, and developmentally appropriate books at every checkup from birth through five years of age. Reach Out and Read sites also help connect families with community resources like the library, Smart Start, and other literacy initiatives, to further promote reading.

Across Pender County, Reach Out and Read partners with three clinics—KidzCare Pediatrics Hampstead, Black River Family Practice Burgaw, and Black River Health Center Atkinson—to prescribe books and reading to more than 1,330 children and families every year. Smart Start of Pender County provides ongoing funding and administration support for the Black River ROR locations. Nationally, more than 6,100 medical locations integrate Reach Out and Read into their standard of care for young children; in North Carolina, 347 locations participate, giving nearly 500,000 books each year.

Allen Phillips-Bell, director of Pender County Library, stated that “by building on and expanding outreach programs and partnerships throughout the county, we can help transform lives and build literacy development in our youngest residents.”

About the Reach Out and Read Intervention:

Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based intervention integrated into medical clinics throughout North Carolina designed to foster intentional skill-building in parents, resilience in families, and positive bonding between children and caregivers. Through Reach Out and Read, doctors prescribe reading aloud every day and provide families with age-appropriate reading strategies. Each child is given a new, developmentally-appropriate book to take home, building a collection of 10–15 new books in the home before that child enters kindergarten.

The Reach Out and Read model is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and has one of the strongest records of research support of any primary care intervention.

Pediatric healthcare providers are trained in the three-part Reach Out and Read model to promote healthy brain development in young children:

  1. The Conversation: During well-child visits, the doctor prescribes reading by modeling read-aloud strategies while teaching and training the parent about how to share books and why it is important. Parents are engaged in the conversation as the provider offers anticipatory guidance and emphasizes how reading brings families together.
  2. The Book: Each child is given a new, culturally, and developmentally appropriate book to take home, building a collection of 10-15 new books in the home before the child goes to kindergarten.
  3. Literacy-Rich Environment and Resources: Clinic environments support literacy-rich messaging and resources to families, supporting providers in community-health resources, and supporting parents in daily literacy activities with their children.

For more information, please visit Find us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter @rorcarolinas.

Pender County Parks and Recreation survey released

Burgaw – Pender County Parks and Recreation releases a County-wide survey to gather public input regarding parks and recreation facilities and programs.

The Pender County Parks and Recreation Department invites residents to share their vision for Parks and Recreation activities and facilities throughout the county by completing the survey.

“We encourage Pender County residents to complete the survey and attend the public meetings,” states Zachary White, Pender County Parks and Recreation Supervisor. “The data collected will provide the department valuable feedback for future decision making.”

Individuals can take the survey online by visiting The survey is best viewed in Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Mozilla Firefox and NOT Internet Explorer. Paper copies are also available at the Pender Administration Building, the Hampstead Government Annex, the Pender County Library, the Hampstead Library Branch, at all public meetings, and by request. The survey will be available until midnight on June 30.

Public Meetings for the Master Plan will be conducted around the county over the next several weeks beginning on Tuesday, April 27. These meetings are designed to be floating meetings and staff encourages community members to stop by the meeting locations between 4:30-7:30 p.m. to share thoughts and ideas. The public meeting schedule and survey are available online at

For more information about the master plan process, survey or public meetings contact the Pender County Parks & Recreation Department 910-259-1330 or

Governor Cooper Outlines Timeline for Lifting State’s COVID-19 Restrictions

As vaccinations continue and trends stabilize, NC will lift mandatory social distancing, capacity, and mass gathering restrictions by June 1

RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. laid out a timeline for lifting current pandemic restrictions today. With stable trends and continued vaccination success, the state expects to lift mandatory social distancing, capacity, and mass gathering restrictions by June 1. The Governor plans to issue an executive order next week outlining safety restrictions for the month of May.

“Each shot in an arm is a step closer to putting this pandemic in the rearview mirror,” said Governor Cooper. “North Carolinians have shown up for each other throughout this entire pandemic and we need to keep up that commitment by getting our vaccines.”

North Carolina continues to focus on distributing vaccines quickly and equitably. This fast and fair approach to getting shots in arms is the best way to beat this pandemic, protect one another, boost the economy and make it possible for restrictions to be lifted.

To date, the state has administered over 6.5 million vaccines. 46.9 percent of adults are at least partially vaccinated, and 35.1 percent are fully vaccinated. More than 76 percent of people 65 and older have had at least one shot.

With vaccine now widely available across the state – often with no wait for an appointment, all North Carolinians 16 and older can plan to take their shot. The state anticipates lifting the mask mandate and easing other public health recommendations, once two-thirds of adult North Carolinians have received at least one vaccine dose and if trends remain stable.

“We are at an exciting moment. We now have enough vaccine for everyone,” said Secretary Cohen. “If you are 16 and older, it is your turn to join the more than 3.6 million North Carolinians who have already taken their first shot. It’s up to you to get us to the two-thirds goal as quickly as possible so we can live with this virus and begin to put this pandemic behind us.”

Gov. Cooper and Sec. Cohen urged North Carolinians continue to get vaccinated and exercise good judgment even when restrictions are lifted. Businesses should continue to follow voluntary health recommendations and North Carolinians should continue to take safety measures in order to boost the economy, keep children in schools and protect each other.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released statistics indicating that North Carolina is among the states with the fewest deaths and fewest job losses per capita.

State health officials are continuing to monitor the presence of COVID-19 and its more contagious variants in North Carolina, which is why it is important to continue to follow the state’s mask mandate and continue to practice safety precautions, including the Three Ws—wear a mask, wait 6 feet apart, and wash hands often.

Water quality swimming advisory lifted for ocean-side site in Pender County

MOREHEAD CITY – State recreational water quality officials today lifted a water quality swimming advisory for an ocean-side swimming area in Pender County.
The advisory was lifted because water testing shows that bacteria levels have dropped below the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s standards set for swimming and water play.
The advisory was posted at public beach access #1A located across from Catherine Avenue in Topsail Beach on April 14. Test results of water samples taken April 12 and April 13 showed bacteria levels exceeding 104 enterococci per 100 milliliters of water, the standard for recreational use coastal waters. Test results of water samples from the site now shows bacteria levels below the state and federal recreational water quality standards.
The sign advising against swimming, skiing or otherwise coming into contact with the water has been removed.
Enterococci, the bacteria group used for testing, are found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While it is not known to cause illness, scientific studies show that enterococci may indicate the presence of other disease-causing organisms. People swimming or playing in waters with bacteria levels higher than the standards have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.
Coastal recreational waters in North Carolina are generally clean. However, it is important to continue monitoring them and to informed of any localized problems. The N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program samples 213 sites in coastal waters of the state, most of them on a weekly basis from April through October.
For more information on the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program, visit the program’s website, view a map of the testing sites, and follow the program’s Twitter feed.

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COVID-19 vaccination appointments are NOW being accepted for everyone 18 years and older. Schedule your appointment in Burgaw or Hampstead. (Moderna vaccine is only approved for age 18 and up.)