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This (busy) week in government: Public Health, Wilmington, New Hanover County, and Board of Education


There is no shortage of government meetings this week, dealing with everything from new CDC guidance on masks to rezonings and naming rights for the city's Riverfront Park venue.

New Hanover County Health and Human Services Board

Monday morning, the county's combined health and human services board will meet and discuss new guidance on mask wearing from the CDC, which encourages vaccinated people to wear masks in public indoor areas in any county with 'substantial' or 'high' levels of Covid-19 transmission — New Hanover is ranked 'substantial' by the CDC. The board is expected to pass similar guidance on to the county, and recommend that county employees wear masks indoor. No public mandate is expected.

City of Wilmington

After the city's agenda review meeting on Monday morning, council will hear several presentations, including the latest on Wilmington's rail-realignment program, for which an environmental study was recently completed. The city will also get an update on the Alton Lennon Federal Courthouse — the facility was badly damaged during Hurricane Florence and the federal government has already spent $10 million on remediation, and recently awarded a $31 million contract to repair it (court staff have been operating out of the former StarNews building on South 17th Street for years).

There will also be an update on beautification alongside Kerr Avenue from Randall to MLK, Jr. — the NCDOT funded the road improvements, but the city can spend its own money for aesthetic work.

On Tuesday, council will handle rezonings, bonus pay for employees, and a grant application from the regional transportation office to build a multi-use path through the city's Northside and Love Grove neighborhoods.

The city will also sign off on the naming rights deal between Live Oak Bank and Live Nation. While the city previously ran a sponsorship campaign, soliciting $3 million donations to name the venue at the Riverfront Park, the current deal doesn't appear to provide revenue for the city. Details of the deal haven't been released (only that the ten-year deal is worth "more than $90,000").

NHC Board of Commissioners

The board of commissioners will handle a major rezoning in Murrayville, where developers have been working for years to transform nearly 63 acres. The plan has changed several times — and was nearly derailed by a last-minute letter from the NCDOT — but now appears to be moving forward.

The county will also vote on an emergency rental assistance program. The embattled federal eviction moratorium expired this past weekend, and local governments across the county have been scrambling to provide their own programs. New Hanover rolled out its own program in March — this week the county will vote to distribute addition all funds it has since received.

NHC Board of Education

The board will again be meeting remotely. After a disastrous July meeting was recessed, the board reconvened remotely to avoid disruption — this time, the board is meeting remotely due to a Covid-19 case.

The board will hear a second reading for several policies and, while it hasn't yet posted a list on its agenda, that's likely to include one guiding how law enforcement behaves on school grounds when it comes to questioning, detaining, or arresting students.

The board will also decide what its masking policy for the upcoming year will be. Governor Roy Cooper has issued guidance, but no binding mandate, leaving the issue up to local school boards. Several boards across the state have already decided to ignore federal and state recommendations, and not require masks.

More info

You find agendas and watch the meetings live using the links below:

  • New Hanover County Board of CommissionersagendaWatch live, Monday, August 2, 4 p.m.
  • City of Wilmington, agenda - Watch live Monday, 8:30 a.m. and Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. (same link for agenda and regular meetings)
  • New Hanover County Board of Education agenda -- Watch live(via YouTube), Tuesday, June 8, 5:30 p.m.
Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature.