Rachel Lewis Hilburn

CoastLine Host, Senior Reporter

Rachel hosts WHQR's local public affairs show, CoastLine, which she helped to create.  She also reports on issues affecting southeastern North Carolina.  Before joining WHQR, Rachel wrote and produced local TV newscasts for the Wilmington ABC-TV affiliate. She also wrote and produced a 30-minute TV special program for the Cape Fear Museum showcasing its renovation and new exhibits, and she independently wrote and produced a documentary on the lingering effects of the 1898 coup d'etat in Wilmington.   

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Hurricane Isaias accomplished what even Covid-19 couldn’t do:  delayed the start of the new academic year for students at year-round schools in New Hanover County.  Traditional schools are still slated to begin August 17th. 

Sterling Publishing

Disney, Nickelodeon, and PBS have all run shows – some of them hit shows – created by Fracaswell Hyman.  He is a writer, producer, and director of children’s television.  He is also an actor who makes his home in Wilmington with his husband, their daughter, and a schnoodle. 


North Carolina’s Covid-19 trends are stabilizing.  It’s good news, according to state health officials – and it’s directly correlated with the statewide mask mandate.

WHQR has details on a new Executive Order effective Friday, July 31st.   

Domestic violence incidents spiked during the early part of the pandemic shutdown around the globe.  


North Carolina set a record over the weekend for the highest number of new cases in a single day.  Health officials still describe the state’s coronavirus situation as a simmer, though, and not a boil.   


  Covid-19 continues to simmer in North Carolina, but has not yet boiled over.  Still, the numbers are not going down.

Vince Winkel

New Hanover Regional Medical Center has been put up for sale. The county-owned hospital system, approved by voters in the early 1960s and opened in 1967, is doing well.   So well, in fact, that last year, NHRMC posted a nearly-$80 million increase in its net position.  The year before that, it finished with a $98 million surplus – that’s revenues over expenditures -- essentially the profit – folded back into NHRMC.   

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School will open for at least part-time in-person learning this year.  That’s the message from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.  Despite the continued spread of Covid-19, state officials say the science shows keeping kids completely out of school is more dangerous than risks from the virus.  


Before the Coronavirus, independent living facilities could seem like an adventure cruise – meals in an elegant dining room, loads of social activities, and friendly people.  But in the age of Covid-19, life inside a retirement community carries strict new protocols.

As we watch public tolerance for Confederate monuments shift, and as we see Black Lives Matter, both the idea and the organization command center stage in a mainstream global conversation, new questions are emerging (largely for white people) about systemic racism and where and how it hides in plain sight.  How is it perpetrated?  How is it expressed?  And why has it been invisible to so many white people for such a long time?  How has white supremacy managed to adapt over time to changing cultures in order to survive?

New Hanover County Public Schools is facing a crisis of public confidence.  On Friday, Feb. 7th, Superintendent Tim Markley announced his resignation with a separation agreement that gives him $228,000.  That’s slightly less than half the value of the remainder of his contract.  The move comes after three high-profile cases of alleged sexual abuse of children by teachers. 


World tennis champion Althea Gibson gave Lenny Simpson his first tennis racket.   She's called one of the greatest tennis players who ever lived by the coach of Venus and Serena Williams.  She's the woman who broke the international tennis color barrier, and who now has a monument outside Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.  

Althea Gibson is also the woman who changed the trajectory of one little boy’s life.  

It's not often that open seats on a local water and sewer utility generate continuous media coverage and fiercer controversy than local mayoral races.  But that's exactly how the 2019 contest unfolded for the two open seats on the board of Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2G0.  

Active Energy Group

The Active Energy Renewable Power Company is waiting for approval of an air quality permit from state regulators for North Carolina’s first “black” wood pellet plant. A decision is expected before the end of next month. 


The Carolina African American Writers’ Collective 25 came into being 25 years ago.  The publication of the anthology All The Songs We Sing celebrates this anniversary. 

In an historic announcement Tuesday night, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo named Donny Williams as the City’s new Chief of Police. 

Nancy Beach / Wikimedia Commons


What to do with the Confederate Monuments that sit in major intersections in downtown Wilmington? 

That was the issue dominating a forum on race – hosted last night by Mayor Bill Saffo and City Council Member Kevin Spears.  The  answer could come as soon as Tuesday.


Mayor Saffo says he’s exploring options for removal of the statues – which are protected by a 2015 state law.  One of the options, used by Governor Roy Cooper to remove statues from public spaces in Raleigh, is to declare them threats to public safety. 



  Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when you’re out in public.  That’s the message from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and other state officials watching the steady increase of Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.  But there is not yet a statewide mandate.

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Migratory birds have enjoyed federal protection since 1918 under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The law makes it illegal to capture, kill, trade, or otherwise transport wild birds without the express permission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  It also holds companies or corporations accountable who cause the death of migratory birds through environmental accidents such as oil spills.  But a proposed revision to the law rolls back some of these protections if entities can prove the deaths were unintentional.


Fifty years ago, the insecticide DDT nearly wiped out pelicans.  Today, four- to five-thousand pairs nest in North Carolina – about a quarter of them on marshy, low-lying spoil islands in the Cape Fear River.  It’s part of the pelican life cycle beachgoers never see. 


Amanda Ake / WHQR Public Media

What started in Minneapolis – protests over the murder of George Floyd in police custody – is reverberating around the world.  From New Zealand to Brazil to Israel, Mexico, Turkey, Kenya, Japan, Canada – it might be simpler to list countries without protests.  Hundreds of thousands of people are marching, expressing their rage over what happened to George Floyd and other people of color before him. 

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Protests over the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police now stretch around the globe.  They erupted after the release of a horrific video which shows an excruciating 8 minutes and 46 seconds of former-police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck.   Chauvin has been fired from his police job and charged with murder.  Floyd has been laid to rest, but the protests have not.  

Public schools in North Carolina will open for in-person classes in the fall if Covid-19 metrics trend in the right direction. 


On November 10, 1898, an angry white mob led by prominent Wilmingtonians like Alfred Moore Waddell, Hugh MacRae, George Rountree, and J. Allen Taylor, murdered anywhere from a dozen to 300 people. These white supremacists forcefully removed black politicians from power, and hundreds of black business owners and residents fled in the aftermath. This feature includes video interviews with local leaders.


Minorities in North Carolina are severely and disproportionately affected by Covid-19.  At his press conference Thursday, Governor Roy Cooper issued an Executive Order designed to address these inequities. 


The first day of summer is almost upon us but for many kids in the North Carolina public school system, summer vacation started early.  In April, state education officials declared that elementary school students would not receive a final grade, middle school students would receive a pass or withdraw designation, and high school students get to choose how their grade appears on their transcript – either a numeric grade as of March 13th or a pass / withdraw mark. 


New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington have instituted a nightly curfew.  Officials say they respect the right to a peaceful protest – but they don’t know the identity of a group that’s gathering nightly.    

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As the North Carolina General Assembly passes a bill allowing bars to open outdoor seating, the number of Covid 19 hospitalizations in the state is at an all-time high. And that has Governor Roy Cooper pushing back at the notion of opening more and opening sooner. 

Anyone who has lived through the loss of a person whom they loved deeply has come face to face with grief.  It’s a human emotion that most people will encounter during their lifetime.  

Dean Neff, Chef, Owner, Seabird in downtown Wilmington

Restaurant owners – the independent ones – often start their businesses because they are chefs – artists whose medium is food and drink.  As Governor Roy Cooper cautiously allows the state to move into Phase 2, they’re going to need all their creativity just to keep their businesses going.