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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WHQR / Katelyn Freund

North Carolina’s Congressional District map has faced criticism for years.  In 2018, a federal court declared it unconstitutional and gerrymandered to favor Republican candidates.  

Two productions – a horror film and a crime drama series -- are currently shooting in the Cape Fear region.  Another TV pilot is in pre-production, and five projects recently wrapped.

WHQR / Katelyn Freund

North Carolina’s House District 20 has new boundaries in time for the 2020 elections.  What used to be a district that included northern New Hanover County is now a smaller area and no longer includes Kure Beach or Carolina Beach.  

North Carolina Senate District 8 includes the whole of Brunswick, Bladen, and Pender Counties.  But this year, there’s another piece added to the district – a very small slice of New Hanover County’s northernmost part. 

North Carolina’s House District 18, redrawn for the 2020 elections, no longer includes any part of Brunswick County.  It’s now strictly a northern New Hanover County territory with more unaffiliated voters than those registered as Democrats or Republicans. 


Novant Health is set to become the new owner of New Hanover Regional Medical Center.  At Monday night’s county commission meeting, four of the five board members voted to approve the sale of the county’s largest asset, and to create a private community foundation to manage the proceeds.

North Carolina’s House District 19, redrawn for the 2020 elections, now includes a southern portion of Brunswick County – in addition to the southernmost part of New Hanover County.  It’s a district that has, for the last four-and-a-half terms, been served by Representative Ted Davis, Junior. 


Monday night, New Hanover County Commissioners decide the future of New Hanover Regional Medical Center.  Since Commissioners announced the potential sale more than a year ago, opponents have argued the county should not let go of its single most valuable asset or control of local healthcare. 


This Friday, October 2nd, North Carolina moves into Phase 3 of its coronavirus response, and movie theaters, bars, and outdoor entertainment venues will be allowed to open at reduced capacity.


The sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center is one step closer to reality.  At its final meeting Tuesday night, the Partnership Advisory Group voted to recommend the purchase agreement, as written, for approval. 

New Hanover County Commissioners vote October 5th on whether to approve the sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant Health.  In advance of that vote, the county held a public hearing last night at the New Hanover County Courthouse to allow residents to voice their opinions about the sale. 

WHQR / Katelyn Freund

New Hanover County’s Board of Commissioners has five seats.  Each member is elected to a staggered, four-year term.  In 2020, there are three open seats.

Walnut Creek Amphitheater

North Carolina is taking another step towards re-opening.  As Covid-19 metrics continue to stabilize, Governor Roy Cooper is also announcing new relief money for small businesses and a new Covid app.  

More than a billion dollars in public money could wind up under the control of an 11-member foundation board that is not overseen by the Local Government Commission – or open to the public. 

Creative Commons / Michael Rivera

Coronavirus metrics are going in the right direction in North Carolina.  That’s why, says Governor Roy Cooper, he’s allowing school districts to open elementary schools for in-person learning. 

New Hanover County’s Board of Commissioners has five seats.  Each member is elected to a staggered, four-year term.  In 2020, there are three open seats.


North Carolina Senate District 9 covers the majority of New Hanover County – with the exception of small northern slice that is part of District 8. 


President Donald Trump paid his first visit to the Cape Fear region Wednesday during the 2020 election season.  His agenda:  to declare Wilmington the first official World War Two Heritage City.   But it’s an opportune time and place for the Republican incumbent; since North Carolina is a battleground state with a slight Republican lean, it’s likely this is only the first of a series of visits from the candidates. 


Wilmington is now the nation’s first World War Two Heritage City.  President Donald Trump flew in Wednesday afternoon to make it official.  A crowd of supporters greeted him at the airport, and cheering throngs waved as his motorcade headed for the Battleship North Carolina.  Elsewhere in town, crowds gathered to protest. 


After a short speech in front of a small crowd of supporters at Wilmington International Airport early Wednesday afternoon, President Donald Trump and his motorcade headed for the Battleship North Carolina. 


President Donald Trump arrived in Wilmington early Wednesday afternoon.  After a short speech in front of a small crowd of supporters at Wilmington International Airport, his motorcade headed for the Battleship North Carolina. 

U.S. Navy / 1946

Wilmington, North Carolina is about to become the first World War II Heritage City in the United States.  President Donald Trump is expected to make the formal announcement during a visit to the Port City Wednesday, September 2nd. 

Cameron Art Museum / https://www.cameronartmuseum.org

Museums in the Cape Fear region are watching what would normally be their busiest time of the year – summer tourist season – pass them by. 


Covid-19 trends in North Carolina are heading down, but state officials say the real test is coming soon. 

As colleges and universities welcome students back to school, law enforcement officials across the state will be watching closely.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper credits social distancing, the early shutdowns, a cautious re-opening, and face masks with bringing down the coronavirus numbers in North Carolina. 

Cape Fear Collective


Covid-19 shut down North Carolina in March.  A cautious re-opening plan by state officials has led to a flattening of the case count curve, but the restrictions have also stalled commerce. 


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.