Some of the citizens who are against an OLF in northeastern North Carolina...
When I first heard about the possibility of an outlying landing field being located
in Gates County, I wasn't very concerned. After all, the sites in Washington and Perquimans counties had apparently been taken off the plate. The same thing
would happen here. I had lived in Sunbury all my life. It couldn't happen here.
I heard about an organizational meeting at Zion's church. I decided to attend.
There were maybe 40 people there. I listened to what was said. People seemed rather
worried but I knew it couldn't happen here.
I went to the commissioner's meeting at the courthouse. I had never seen so
many people in one place in Gates County. I got some flyers, signed a petition,
and even got a sign. Everyone seemed fired up, but I was sure it couldn't happen
I helped hand out flyers at the football game. I went to the rally Sunday night
at the football field. I got there early and helped all I could. I listened to
the speakers and found out it may be two years before a decision was made. That
seemed like a long time; this would be a prolonged battle. There were a lot of
folks involved. I'm not that crazy about going to meetings and don't have
a lot of spare time. I decided to let someone else do it. They didn't need
me, one more person wouldn't make any difference. They could do a much better
job than I could. Besides, it couldn't happen here.
I went about my life. The OLF was put on the back burner. I would read about it
in the paper or maybe see it mentioned on TV. The people protesting it seemed to
be doing a good job. I still knew it couldn't happen here.
All the animals I used to love to watch - deer, turkeys, rabbits, squirrels, and
birds - seem to have disappeared. I'm not sure why. Perhaps the jet noise
and dumped jet fuel have something to do with it. I thought it couldn't happen
A thin film of jet fuel has replaced the dew on my windshield. I awaken at night
to the roar of jets. I used to love to go outside at night and look at the stars
and listen to the frogs and crickets. Now the stars seem dim next to the jet lights.
The frogs and crickets are inaudible over the jet noise. Even on quiet nights I
can't hear them anymore because my hearing is so damaged. I thought it couldn't
My daughter asks me what's happening. "I don't like all this noise,
Daddy. Why are there so many planes? I can't sleep Daddy. My best friend
is moving. She says her parents can't stand the noise. Why did you let this
happen? Couldn't you have done something, Daddy?" What do I tell her?
I'm sorry pumpkin. I was wrong. I thought it couldn't happen here.
There's a stranger in my yard driving a big fancy car. It's got government
license plates. He says the Navy wants me to move but will give me a fair price
for my home and land. I tell him my grandparents and parents lived on the land
and I was planning to the same. I really don't want to move. He seems sympathetic
and tells me something that really hurts. He says if more people had been involved
from the start and made their voices heard instead of sitting back and letting other
people do all the work, the outcome might have been different.
Why did I think it couldn't happen here?
Respect – Webster’s defines this word as “ to consider in high regard.” The Secretary of the Navy, Governor Easley and the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources certainly do not know the meaning of this word. They have shown a total lack of respect for our land, our lives and our legacy.
Gates county and the rest of Northeastern North Carolina may not have major cities or industry but we do have what many people envy-pristine beauty, a quiet calm and an intimate relationship with nature. The lack of respect that has been shown to our region has caused many of us to reflect on why we love this area.
We have, for too long, taken for granted the site of migratory birds, the smell of freshly dug peanuts and the sounds of frogs, crickets and owls as we lay in our bed at night. We have taken for granted the pleasure we find in hunting and/or fishing in the quiet time of dawn and dusk. We have taken for granted that others, who have been charged to protect our natural resources, would so quickly and without consideration take those same areas and ravage them.Well, I think the people in Washington and Raleigh have taken for granted that we would sit back and allow our region to be used for an outlying landing field. Our response to this attack proves that this is not true. Our fight against the OLF will bridge the generation gap, cross all ethnic and racial boundaries and allow us the opportunity to work together for the good our lives, our land and our legacy.
Gates County is a county we love so
With rivers, creeks, and wildlife
Another year lived in Gates County we
thank God still
Our fellowship with neighbors and friends
keeps our hearts love filled
That we love Gates County we want
everyone to know
We will stand up for what's rightfully
ours so OLF, no
Even though Gates is not a large city
it is where we want to be
We still have our Family Foods, Dollar Store
and that's enough for me
So Gates County is land our forefathers
left for us to keep
We're not letting OLF snatch it from
under our feet
'Cause we will unite as one to let our
opinion be known
Gates County doesn't want an OLF or one
jet to be flown
One thing the Navy will know, united we stand
no division, or we'll fall
We the natives of Gates County are
Under no conditions do we want our Sandbanks
changed or renamed
God gave the Sandbanks to us and we
want it to stay the same
Now the OLF will cause my church Stoney Branch
to be torn down as well
We will see and time will tell...
Matthew 6:15 says upon this rock I build my church
The gates of hell shall not prevail
Trusting in the Lord to fight our battle
That God will guide our footsteps every
woman, child, and man
Yes we the good people of Gates County
can get this problem solved
That means we all have to get involved.
My family, my friends, my neighbors and I are stressed over the OLF proposed for northeast North Carolina. I am experiencing a double shot of stress as I own property in Gates County and Camden County that are located in the proposed flight patterns.
My parents, ages 84 and 87, as well as my sister and her husband live on our century old, family farm in Gates County. Some of this farm faces Highway 13 and is in the process of being zoned general business. The map shows the flight pattern to divide the farm. The flight pattern will encompass the acreage facing Highway 13 and the high land; leaving the swampy area of the farm for us. My parents home will be in the flight pattern while my sisters will not. This is breaking my mother’s heart, as her grandfather left each one of his children a home and farm all connecting to one another. These farms have remained in the families and passed to his heirs.
My mother’s memories are with the land as she was born on the land, lost her mother at the age of 18 months old on the land and watched homeless people wander the countryside during the Great Depression arriving at her home at her door for food. She has told me that no one was ever turned away. Some pitched tents on the lawn for short periods before moving on. This farm is her life’s blood. Other families are experiencing the same pain. It would be terrible for our government to displace so many senior citizens with so many memories. They have been told the history of the land by deceased relatives such as when George Washington and Lafayette crossed the land in their travels, how the Buffalo Men of the Civil War hid on the river banks of the Chowan River, how the native Indians caught huge sturgeon fish floating on top of the Chowan waters, how horses were traded for land with the native Indians, how the first African American Church, Stoney Branch, was built after the Civil War in Gates County, etc. I can trace my roots back to one of my Great Grandfathers serving as an ensign in the American Revolutionary War that lived in this area of Gates County. So many of the churches were established in the early 1800's in these areas. This county already has some of the highest taxes in NC and its seniors cannot afford higher taxes. Gates County is comprised of close-knit communities that take care of each other. They are known for their generosity.
I recently moved from Currituck County, where I lived for twenty plus years, to Camden County where I built my dream home. I chose to move from Currituck because so many people were leaving the busy Tidewater cities to find a better life style for their families. Currituck was growing too fast for me. I chose Camden, a poor county with high taxes, for myself in order to enjoy natures’ sounds. Camden is also riddled with history in the proposed area of the Black Water flight pattern. One of the Civil War Battles was fought in this area and everything was burned to the ground causing this portion of South Mills township of Camden to be called Burnt Mills. Camden is also known for its wildlife and its abundant black bears. Those seeking to rear their families in a farming community with wildlife at its door chose this area. I have a Navy Seal man that has served his county 24 years, two Chiefs in the Navy and other service men in my neighborhood that moved their families from Virginia to get away from the jet noise, for better schools and a better quality of life. They will tell you that they exchanged the conveniences of the city and the short commute to their work for peace and quiet in the country. They will tell you that they did not build their homes in Camden knowing that OLF wanted their airspace. They are opposed to the OLF as the flight pattern is over our homes and the farmers also oppose it. We do not want our community to change and for our wildlife to relocate. .
I have been in real estate both in Virginia and North Carolina over the years and have watched the Navy, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake allow the developers to push the Green Line back to our border. They have created this mess and now they want to dump it in our backyard. Home owners in these areas of Virginia signed documents acknowledging that they knowingly were buying properties in flying zones. Gov. Warner says he wants the OLF in Virginia. Why can’t the Navy use Fort Pickett? Virginia benefits financially from the Navy, we do not. Years ago farmers in the Fentress area of Chesapeake sold their airspace to the Navy and now it has been brought to my attention that the Navy has given this back to the farmers. Does this mean the Navy intends to move the two squadrons at this airfield into North Carolina so more development can take place in Virginia?
Northeast North Carolina can not afford to have an OLF at this time. It can not afford to have families displaced as in New Orleans, to wipe out life styles and disrupt history and force its abundant wildlife to find new habitats. The people of Gates and Camden cannot afford higher taxes. Camden has just reassessed its properties at 100%. Homeowners and land owners can not afford to sell their properties and move in today’s market. They owe more for their properties then they can sell them for.
This will cause an economic disaster for these areas. This will also affect the taxes paid to the counties as the Navy will be tax exempt.
My father, a Pearl Harbor Survivor, taught my sister and I to be patriotic and support our veterans, which we do. We know that freedom is not free and we respect our service men and women. My neighbors and friends in the service will tell you that I thank them quite often for their service to my country. My government owes me respect too. I am certain the fathers of this country did not intend for peoples’ rights to be walked on by the Navy. The people should vote and not be forced against their wills. What is happening is not a democracy.
If you don't see the movie above, you can connect directly at:
No OLF Informational DVD's
People have called and requested a copy of the OLF Info and Sandbanks and Boonetown Stories DVDs we showed at the Informational Meeting on 02/21/08. We will have copies available at the Gates County Library. They will be available for check out - free of charge.
If you don't see the movie above, you can connect directly at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5X_doLpAw0Q