4/23/09 - OLF Community Meeting
5/02/08 - Navy Scoping Meeting held from 4-9pm in the Cafeteria at Gates County High School
The Navy hosted 462 people in Southampton, 252 in Prince George, 320 in Sussex, 315 in Surry, 242 in Currituck County, N.C., and 392 in Camden County, N.C and 671 IN GATES COUNTY! The people in the poorest county are fighting the hardest! Citizens Against OLF was present in full force with several displays and five of our movies playing in the lobby. Although a Navy representative requested that a school official move us to a different location, and then even went as far as asking to lock the cafeteria door (they were stationed in the cafeteria, we were in the lobby), we were allowed to stay and the door was not locked. Many from our community were disappointed by the lack of information and/or conflicting information provided by the Navy at the scoping meeting. Hundreds of comments and questions were submitted to be included in the EIS. Thanks to the 671 people who came out to show their opposition!
Watch a slideshow of the meeting at:
4/01-03/08 - Gates County Delegation Attended Meeting in Washington, DC
On April 1-3, a Gates County Delegation composed of County Manager Melinda Hoggard, Linda Warren and Laura Dickerson attended meetings along with representatives from Camden and Currituck. We met with staff from the offices of Senator Burr, Congressman Butterfield, Congressman Price. We met with Senator Dole and her staff, as well as Congressman Jones and his staff. At each office, we shared a notebook which included stories from the Sandbanks and Boonetown, information on the wetlands and Chowan River, documentation of our broad opposition, and the reasons the Sandbanks site was taken off the list in 2003. We asked each office to take action to remove us from the list of proposed sites. Senator Dole agreed to write a letter to the Navy. Congressman Butterfield's staff indicated he would probably write a letter if he received a formal request. County Manager Melinda Hoggard hand delivered a formal request the next day. Congressman Jones indicated he would work with Butterfield on a letter. Congressman Price's staff indicated he would be watching the process closely to insure that it was fair. His staff indicated he would look at the letter Butterfield and Jones write. County Manager Melinda Hoggard attended meetings with the staffs of Congressman Bob Etheridge, Congressman Randy Forbes, and Senator John McCain. She also met with Dept. Asst. Secretary of the Navy Schregardus and hand delivered a letter that stated we were broadly opposed and not interested in incentive packages.
3/24/08 - Gates County Delegation Met with the Governor's Office
On March 24, a Gates County Delegation composed of County Manager Melinda Hoggard, County Commissioner Ken Jernigan, Linda Warren, and Laura Dickerson met with Governor Easley's Chief of Staff Franklin Freeman and Senior Policy Advisor Hawley Truax. We shared our broad opposition and the stories of many of those who live in the Sandbanks and Boonetown. We requested that the Governor take action to remove the Sandbanks site from the list of proposed OLF sites.
3/13/08 - Raleigh Rally
Our Raleigh Rally was a huge success! Roughly 75 folks came out to show Gates County's broad local OPPOSITION! A few of our speakers were: Gerry Cohn with American Farmland Trust, Anita Earls with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Kathy Hartkopf from Freedomworks, Amina Turner, executive director for NC NAACP, and Senator Ed Jones. Certainly, Governor Easley and the public got the message that there is only broad local oppositon here. We got great press coverage from as far away as Fayetteville, Richmond, and Charlotte! The Raleigh News and Observer and WTKR and WAVY 10 in Hampton Roads also shared our story! Check out our story in the Charlotte Observer: http://www.charlotte.com/204/story/535293.html or watch the media coverage from WITN in New Bern: http://www.witntv.com/home/headlines/ 16643901.html Thanks to everyone who helped make the day a huge success. Check out our movie of the rally: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5X_doLpAw0Q
2/21/08 - Public Information Sessions - Feb. 21, 2008, 10:00am (Session 1) and 7:00pm (Session 2).
Our OLF Public Information Sessions were a success!
Over 300 people braved the cold weather to come out and learn more about an OLF and hear the heartbreaking stories of their neighbors in the "contours" of the Navy's proposed sites. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice sent a representative. Betty Jo Shepheard from Senator Burr's office spoke about the Sandbanks tour she and Senator Burr's legislative assisstant, Kevin Hernandez, took on Wednesday, Feb. 20. Kathy Hartkopf from Freedomworks spoke on property rights and how we can stop an OLF from coming to Gates County. Senator Ed Jones shared his support with us. Several people have called and requested a copy of the OLF Info and Sandbanks and Boonetown Stories DVDs we showed. We will have copies available at the Gates County Library by Thursday of this week. They will be available for check out - free of charge.
1/27/08 - A Meeting was held at 2:00p.m. at the Gates County Courthouse
Senator Dole and her Eastern Regional Director Janet Bradbury visited Gatesville on Sunday, Jan. 27. She met with Commissioners JS Pierce and David Brown, County Manager Melinda Hoggard, and Laura Dickerson, a representative from Citizens Against OLF. She listened to the concerns of our county and pledged to only support an OLF where there was "broad local support." She was disappointed to hear about the continued lack of communication from the Navy. She urged us to present our case to the Navy and work to gather the support of the entire state. She said she and her staff would be happy to present any of our information to the Navy, set up meetings with the Navy, or ask the Navy any of our questions.
1/07/08 - Regional Coalition Meeting was held at 5:00pm at the Java Cup in Sunbury
12/08/07 - Gates County Christmas Parade
Citizens Against OLF marched in the Gatesville Christmas Parade on Dec. 8, handing out No OLF bracelets, t-shirts, and bumper stickers.
11/20/07 - No OLF Thanksgiving Celebration
On Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 6:00PM, at Beasley’s Shop Hwy 32 N Washington/Beaufort County Line the Washington County No OLF group hosted a Thanksgiving Celebration. For news coverage of this event, please visit: http://www.noolf.com/index.cfm/sid.356/nid.2003/do.s/p.1?action=&PageNum_get=1
11/7/07 - Citizens Against OLF Traveled to DC to Talk with a NC Congressional Delegation
On behalf of Citizens Against OLF:
At each meeting we began by asking for their help as their voices are so much more powerful than ours. We outlined our basic position as follows: We want: 1) Gates County and Northeastern North Carolina sites off the short list of sites for further study to be issued by the Navy on November 15th; 2) Congress to use taxpayer money wisely and make sure an OLF is actually needed in light of the fact that there are existing military facilities, Fentress and Fort Pickett, that are not being used to their full capacity; 3) their offices to convey to Secretary Winters that there is broad, local opposition in Gates County and Northeastern North Carolina generally to any OLF in this region prior to the November 15th decision and 4) them to use their appropriations power to stop funding for any Navy activities associated with an OLF in Northeastern North Carolina.
At each office we provided a packet of materials that included a four-page fact sheet explaining our opposition to an OLF, a copy of the letter from the State NAACP opposing the siting of an OLF in any community where it disproportionately impacts poor and minority families, copies of additional handwritten letters from Gates County residents opposing the OLF, a DVD with the No OLF movie, copies of our paper petition with 1269 signatures and copies of the online petition and comments with 2142 signatures. In addition, each office received NO OLF yard signs signed on both sides by Gates County residents.
Senator Dole’s Office:
We met with three members of Senator Dole’s staff, led by Lindsay R. Neas, Military Legislative Assistant, and Eric Zulkosky, Correspondence Director, for approximately 45 minutes.
Mr. Neas explained Senator Dole’s basic position: she opposes the building of an OLF in any location where there is broad community opposition to it and second, the Navy must make the case for why they need to build an OLF.
They stressed that it is crucial for us to continue organizing, with a broad-based, regional perspective, to work with and through state and local elected officials; and to be a large presence at every stage of the process in every forum possible. “The most important thing to do is to show up.” The squeaky wheel is the most likely to cause the Navy to rethink the locality for an OLF. Local, grassroots opposition will make a difference.
Senator Dole’s office is considering whether a second letter to the Secretary of Navy at this point would be helpful. They would continue to use defunding of Navy activities related to the building of an OLF in the appropriations process if necessary. Senator Dole believes that even in the context of the Navy’s current six plus one surge framework, the Navy needs to “regroup to consider the facts.” The Navy must identify their needs, assess their current capacity, and determine whether their current facilities can adequately service their needs.
He said that in Senator Dole’s view, the Navy acquiring a site through litigation runs contrary to representative government. The Senator’s office is well aware of the widespread opposition in Northeastern North Carolina to having an OLF in this region. He articulated why an OLF would be severely detrimental to the way of life for Gates county residents. He said an OLF would fundamentally alter the community beyond the perimeter of the landing field itself.
In concluding, they urged us to continue to try to contact the Navy directly, to reach Assistant Secretary B.J. Penn, prior to November 15th, and to continue organizing and staying in touch with Senator Dole’s office.
Representative G.K. Butterfield’s Office:
We met with Lee Lilley, Legislative Assistant, for approximately 40 minutes. He explained that Representative Butterfield’s basic position from the time that the Navy was considering Site C, is that he does not oppose the siting of an OLF in North Carolina but he did oppose Site C and was involved in halting funding for Site C in the appropriations process.
Representative Butterfield has been close to the issue for four years, but currently is following the Governor’s lead and waiting to see the outcome of the Governor’s Study Group. He was under the impression that the Study Group would make a recommendation to the Governor. We explained that the Study Group declined to deliberate or to make any recommendations at their most recent meeting in Raleigh on November 1st. Representative Butterfield does not feel he has the expertise to choose a site or to question the Navy’s judgment about the need for an OLF. He said their next step is to talk with the Governor’s office in Washington.
He expressed understanding of the negative impact that an OLF would have on the quality of life in Gates County and Northeastern North Carolina communities. We reminded him that Representative Butterfield has said he was ready to fight if the residents are ready to fight. We assured him that there is a broad coalition in the region ready to fight to the end on this issue.
Senator Burr’s Office:
We met with Kevin Hernandez, Legislative Assistant, standing in the hallway, for approximately an hour. He stated that Senator Burr’s basic position is that they are waiting to see what the Navy announces on November 15th, but that he would convey to the Secretary of the Navy our strong opposition to the siting of an OLF in Gates County and Northeastern North Carolina.
He stated that we should speak to our Governor, and to get our State Senators and Representatives to put pressure on the Governor. We explained that the Governor’s Chief of Staff, Franklin Freeman, told our local elected officials on November 1st to speak to our representatives in Congress because they control appropriations for Navy operations. He said that Senator Burr will evaluate their options after the Navy makes its announcement and will consider defunding as a possible response.
We asked him if Senator Burr would join Senator Dole in opposing the siting of an OLF in any community that has broad opposition to it. He said that position was dishonest because a responsible approach is to make a judgment weighing the competing interests at stake, walking a fine line between the need of the Navy to provide quality training and the detrimental impact on the affected communities. He also said that they do not join Senator Dole in questioning the need for an OLF. He said he had not seen any information challenging the Navy’s conclusion that an OLF is necessary. In response to our pointing out that according to the Navy’s own FEIS in 2003, the OLF is being considered for noise abatement and operational flexibility, he responded that more recent information demonstrates that it is legitimately needed for training purposes. At the conclusion of the meeting, however, he pledged that his office would be involved in the process going forward and would ask the hard questions of the Navy about the need for an OLF.
11/3/07 - Candlelight Vigil Saturday
Approximately 60 people braved the cold and showed their solidarity in opposition to an OLF at the Candlelight Vigil Saturday night, Nov. 3. Thanks so much to Tarheel BBQ for hosting the event.
11/1/07 - Next Governor's OLF Study Group Meeting
Gates County was well represented at the Nov. 1 meeting of the Governor's OLF Study Group. It was standing room only, with at least 30 people (which was more than 50%) from Gates County there! Melinda Hoggard and Debra Vaughan did a great job representing our concerns. Randall Woodruff, county manager from Camden, also did a wonderful job conveying the concerns of Perquimans, Camden and Gates. We were able to show the study group the movie from our website. It was very evident that there is only broad local opposition in Northeastern North Carolina.
10/23/07 - Governor's OLF Study Group
The Governor's OLF Study Group met in Elizabeth City on Oct 23 and the citizens of NE NC voiced their UNANIMOUS opposition to the placement of an OLF anywhere in the region. Great showing for Gates County at the Public Hearing on Oct. 23. Over 200 people from Gates County signed a sign in sheet that was passed around. If you count those that didn’t sign, I think we had at least 250 people there! Of the 60 people who spoke, 29 were from Gates County. The speakers were wonderful! Thanks so much for your efforts to get there!
If you spoke or if you wanted to go to the public hearing and couldn’t, PLEASE send your comments to email@example.com AND firstname.lastname@example.org. We need to make sure the Oct. 23 comments and any other comments you want to make are a part of the record.
Read additional perspectives in news outlets such as the DailyAdvance at http://www.dailyadvance.com/news/content/news/stories/2007/24//1024olfhearjh.html
10/04/07 - OLF Study Group Meeting
Eight people from Gates County attended the Outlying Landing Field Study Group Meeting in Raleigh. Representatives from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, US Fish and Wildlife Service, NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, and Audubon Society made comments on each of the new sites. Rear Admiral David Anderson gave an update on the Navy's search for an OLF site. Over 400 letters from the Citizens Against OLF Rally were tied in a red ribbon and were hand delivered to Hawley Truax, a policy advisor in the Governor's office, for him to give to the Governor, since Governor Easley did not attend the meeting.
9/30/07 - Citizens Against OLF Rally
Over 500 people attended a rally on Sunday night. Citizens were inspired by several speakers - including pastors, former military, business owners, and seniors. People were entertained with music by Bridget Jones and a group of youth singing their original song, "NO OLF." Awareness materials were obtained and are now on display as you ride through the county. Petitions were signed. Over 400 letters in opposition to an OLF to Governor Easley were signed. Over 350 each were signed to the Secretary of the Navy and Representative Butterfield. Over 200 postcards were signed and have been mailed to Bill Ross at the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
9/24/07 - First Meeting of Citizens Against OLF
Over 600 people attended an informational meeting on September 24 held by the Gates County Commissioners to learn about the Navy's proposed OLF (outlying landing field) locations in Gates County. Two locations are suggested for Gates County and two more for Camden. Pictures of the meeting are posted on this site. The Navy and our Governor unveiled a new listing of proposed OLF site on Tuesday, September 18 in Raleigh. No one from Gates County was notified of the meeting nor asked to attend. The Commissioners have been told almost nothing about future meetings or public hearings, who to contact, who can get our message out, and so on. We do know that the Navy will narrow down their list of possible sites on November 15th. That leaves little time to get organized and make our case to the decision makers in Washington, DC.