Pender County Schools

Dr. Steven Hill

Dr. Steven Hill, Superintendent of Pender County Schools, updated the club on the status of Pender County Schools and some of the challenges the school system faces with COVID-19 and burgeoning enrollments. The school system is under ever increasing scrutiny with the restrictions and threat of COVID-19 as the governor, state health department and state legislature try to manage school protocols that seem to change daily, along with parent and teacher concerns. Oftentimes directives from different state and county sources are at odds with one another. It becomes a real dilemma for the Superintendent to try to keep kids safe, parents and teachers happy and yet oversee the educational institution of learning.

By way of introduction to the Pender County Schools , Dr. Hill explained the geographical make up of the county. The entire county is increasing in population. The east side of the county with the Highway 17 corridor through the Hampstead area continues to grow as more and more people desire a ‘country’ life-style but the convenience of nearby medical and commercial businesses. Thus, a large school population lives in this area and it is difficult to keep up with the need for more classroom space and the new teachers to fill them. The housing boom nationwide often means that new teachers cannot afford housing in the county. With COVID -19 the teacher shortage is even more critical even with teacher supplements. On the west side of Pender along the I-40 corridor, agricultural use is predominant with mostly rural areas. But even in this rural area the population boom continues as people look for a better place to live and raise their kids.

Another dilemma facing Dr. Hill and the school system is the contrast in state school funding and student performance. As a school system, Pender student performance is 11th on standard measures of learning, yet the school system ranks 98 to 99th in state funding out of the 115 NC school districts. This puts tremendous pressure on the supportive county government leaders to weigh in on local tax increases but maintain responsible fiscal budgets. The result is the flat level of funding for pencils, paper, and other classroom supplies even though more and more kids are attending school in the county. State-funded Charter Schools also mean reduced funding and teacher allotments for public schools. Another caveat, state-mandated classroom size at the elementary level means fewer teachers in middle and high schools.

Another aspect of flat funding and COVID-19 is the need to offer alternative choices for learning in addition to the traditional classroom. Once the county school system in person learning was stopped on March 16, 2020, due to COVID-19, the school system had to quickly switch to online learning which was foreign to most school systems across the US. Now that in-person learning has resumed under strict health proactive standards, the school system still offers online learning at added expense.

Dr. Hill expressed great gratitude to the Pender Education Partnership for public support of Pender schools and to our Kiwanis Club for providing scholarships to graduating Seniors.

Officer Installation


Governor Joe Crostic (far lf) assisted by District 18 Lt. Governor Steve Stevens (lf) installed each of the new officers for 2021-2022 who are lt to rt, Carrie Hewitt, President; Nicki Swafford, President-designate, Kim Patrizi, Treasurer; Ed Broadhurst, Board Director; and Pat Brennan, Board Director. Not pictured, Eva Kreiger, Vice-President; Cathi Litcher, Secretary.

September 28

We have changed our Club weekly meeting format starting Tuesday, September 28th which was a social and club get together. The event held at the Cove (aka Salty Turtle Beer Co.) was quite a success. So thanks to President Carrie Hewitt and Secretary Nicki Swafford for organizing it and providing the hors d’oeuvres, they were delicious!

Ocean Fest

Mark Anders

Mark Anders as early as a 6-yr-old always wanted to be a ‘Surfer’ even though he was born and raised several hundred miles from the nearest ocean wave. So he found a way to surf and make a living as a freelance writer, photographer, and filmmaker. Mark gave the Club a humorous talk about how he achieve all these goals. As a freelance writer he traveled the world working on stories related to how people enjoy ‘doing their thing’ in the out-of-doors. His stories are always based on him experiencing that same ‘thing’ as those he writes about. So he has shadowed Navy SEALS in live-fire training in the desert, motorbiked the Ho Chi Minh trail aka the Blood Road, climbed mountains, swam with sharks, and other kinds of extraordinary activities like playing a drowning victim so USCG Rescue Swimmers could “rescued” him half a dozen times as part of their regular mission training off the coast of Oregon.

As an avid surfer based in Surf City, Mark wanted to give back to the community for all the joy he has found in his passion for all things ‘ocean.’ As his website says ‘The ocean has given us so much, and we’ve decided it’s high time to return the favor…

Going on the website says ‘Ocean Fest was founded in 2019 by three surfing buddies who can usually be found riding the waves of Surf City, North Carolina. The motivation behind the event was simply to share our love for the ocean, celebrate the pure joy of surfing, and, most importantly, to give something meaningful back to Mother Ocean. With that in mind, all proceeds from the event benefit a variety of ocean-related charities and environmental causes. ‘

Ocean Fest 2021

Ocean Fest is a 2-day event on Friday, October 8th through Saturday, October 9th.

Please visit the Ocean Fest website to see the list of events from bands to vendors as well as to sign up for the surfing contest: https://theoceanfest.org/


Dawn Ellis

Dawn Ellis spoke from Share The Table.  They are working on their capital project to fund the building of their new facility on NC17 and Perkins Rd.  Kiwanis will be contributing to that funding via our Skip-A-Meal program.  We will have envelopes at meetings as well as three Skip-A-Meal Socials.  Their highest needs are:

  • Monetary donations for their building
  • Adopt-A-Shelf participants
  • Individual volunteers to pick up food at Walmart and Publix
  • Assist in preparing meals on Sundays 

Dawn can be contacted at sharethetablenc@gmail.com if you have any questions.  

Salty Turtle

Dan Callender

Dan Callender from Salty Turtle Beer Company, located at 103 Triton Lane in Surf City was on hand to talk about founding and operating a micro brewery in this competitive market. Dan talked about the hurdles he and his partners had to overcome to make Salty Turtle the microbrew success that it has become. He also explained about the nuts and bolts of brewing the different kinds of micro brews that Salty Turtle offers.

After experimenting with different ingredients to perfect each beer type that Salty Turtle offers and the time it takes to devote to the rest of the business aspect, the company hired a brew master to oversee production. Dan said each batch of micro brew takes about a half day to produce. Even though Salty Turtle can brew in 200 gal tanks, their most popular beers couldn’t be produced fast enough, so they partner with a Cary microbrewery who had a larger tank capacity to have enough beer on hand for the increased demand they are seeing.

One component of the success of Salty Turtle is the community outreach the company supports. As former military service members, Dan and his partners wanted to return to the community the support they had been shown will on active duty. Not only does Salty Turtle showcase their brews at community events, they also host special group events at their business location.

Dan offered to host a Kiwanis get together event at the Salty Turtle this fall when we start meeting for service projects in the evenings, with sharing a meal afterwards.

In the meantime, please visit their web site to see the full range of micro brews and services they offer.

Pender Emergency Management

Tommy Batson

Tommy Batson, Director of Pender County Emergency Management took time away from his beach vacation this morning to talk to our Club about the Emergency Management Department in the county. His department coordinates various state, federal and local agencies that work together for all types of emergencies, whether it is a swift water rescue, a wildfire, or a hurricane. Of course being August, hurricanes were on everyone’s mind. Emergency Preparation Plans are reviewed with all the staff prior to hurricane season to be sure all the bases are covered. When a hurricane threatens Topsail Island several steps are taken the closer and closer the storm gets to landfall.

By the time of landfall everyone representing up to 30 agencies and municipalities are sequestered in the Emergency Operations Center in Burgaw. Hours are long and tense as reports come in over the county communications network. As conditions permit, the EOC works to coordinate with the appropriate agency to get ‘boots on the ground’ where people need help and facilities need restoration.

Category 5 super typhoon from outer space view. The eye of the hurricane. Some elements of this image furnished by NASA

Tommy stressed that everyone needs to have their hurricane preparedness plan in place before hurricane season arrives. Given the low elevation of Topsail Island and the threat of total island over wash in a Cat 5 storm, everyone must leave the island when the emergency declaration to evacuate is issued. What you will take, where you will go determines the basis of your plan including pets which may or may not be allowed in shelters.

Although we are well into the start of hurricane season, it is not too late to get organized. Everything you need to make your plan can be found on the Pender County Emergency Management webpage at https://www.pendercountync.gov/em/


Mario Harris

Mario Harris is a retired United States Marine Master Sergeant that served faithfully and honorably for over twenty-seven years. Throughout his distinguished career, he was an Equal Opportunity Representative, Formal School Instructor, Certified Master Trainer, Curriculum Developer, and Certified Master Instructor (Marine Awareness and Prevention Training). His commitment to equality, solid leadership skills, conflict resolution, and command experience has given him the distinctive ability to take extremely complicated procedures and situations and turned them into teachable moments. Mario holds the Associate in Arts degree from Campbell University (2021). He is currently enrolled at Campbell University’s Bachelors of Business Administration program.

Following retirement, Mario saw a need for kids who had lost their way particularly in underdeveloped portions of towns and counties. Working with his friend and eventual mentor, Ike Johnson, and several other Marine Corps veterans, MENAC was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is positioned and was purposefully created for the mental growth, educational expansion, and societal awareness of every child, teenager, and young adult between the ages of 12 and 30 years old that lives in an underdeveloped neighborhood and community.

Mario uses his skills that were obtained as a facilitator and his training as a Formal School Instructor and Certified Master Trainer (USMC) for mentoring youth and young adults. His strategy is to serve as a guide to mentor kids in a way that helps them ‘up the mountain to plant their flag’ so that they can find out what they want to be in life.

While MENAC Inc., works with kids from middle school through high school and beyond, Mario focuses on middle school students while Ike works with high school students who are having trouble in school and in life. Often the kids are from single-parent homes with the mom as the kid’s only parent. Referrals come through the Onslow County Social Services program. Mario also takes on juvenile offenders from the court system. He tries to dispel the thinking that “I didn’t because I couldn’t.” He follows his mission because he believes that every kid should have a guide and by working together can help our youth make better decisions in life.

To learn more about MENAC and find ways to volunteer visit their website at https://menac.org/

Mario enjoys spending time with his family and friends, traveling, reading, and playing chess for fun.  He is qualified in conflict resolution, equity, equality, mediation, leadership, and team development at all levels. He uses consistency, versatility, and a positive approach when helping people accomplish their goals and dreams to succeed beyond their potential and believes success is achieved when society embraces “building minds builds communities.”

Carolinas District

Joe Crostic

Joe is Governor-Elect of the Carolinas District, and will assume the Governorship of the District on October 1. Previously, he was a Distinguished Lt. Governor for Division 26, the Membership Coordinator for the Carolinas District and is a Distinguished Past President of the Southport-Oak Island Club. It is easy to see why Joe is incoming District Governor as his enthusiasm for all things Kiwanis just oozes out in everything he talks about.

Now that school kids are back in school, Joe challenges us to get our “Kids Need Us (Kiwanis)” programs like Builders Club, Key Club, Aktion Club, etc. up and running again, if they were not already. Joe cited a report that expressed concern that 7 in 10 students in South Carolina may not meet state standards for their age grade due largely to the COVID epidemic and lack of in-school learning. All the more reason to get our programs back to speed in our schools.

Membership renewals and new members have been an issue for the Carolinas District as well as nationally and internationally. Our own club is a perfect example with only about 20% of our pre-COVID membership returning to our in-person meetings. Joe stated that while clubs in the Carolinas District have recruited over 200 new members this year so far, but membership losses have resulted in a net loss of  about 50 members in the district year to date. Our own club can claim three of those 200 with Barb Hoff, Kim Patrizi, and Tom Staker our newest members this year. Joe mentioned that interest in Kiwanis has developed in the Burgaw area of Pender County, such that recruiting is underway to get enough potential members to form a new club, not that we want any of our Kiwanis Club of Topsail Island Area members defecting to Burgaw!

Joe hyped the Kiwanis Education and Leadership Conference in Greenville, SC starting August 28th. Lots of good fellowship, educational opportunities and an outstanding slate of speakers. You can register, see the program and events scheduled for the ‘Get Back in the Game’ themed event at https://carolinakiwanis.org/(X(1)S(0wtdtsywlywrottuogdflafb))/Page/50679

Governor-Elect Joe Crostic
Carolinas District of Kiwanis Priorities for 2021-22

  • Increase Kiwanis Membership in the Carolinas
    • Net increase in membership across the District of 5%
    • Open 5 new clubs
  • Strengthen Kiwanis Clubs throughout the District
    • Host 2 Club Coaching Days
    • Conduct at least 6 webinars throughout the year on topics of current interest
    • Train minimum of 10 Club Coaches in District
  • Expand Kiwanis Youth Programs
    • Add 10 new Service Leadership Programs in the District
  • Support the Kiwanis Children’s Fund and District Foundation
    • Increase support of the Kiwanis Children’s Fund and Carolinas District Foundation by 5%
  • Strengthen District Organization and Club Support
    • Complete District Organizational Resilience Plan
    • Launch new District Website by end of year
    • Launch District Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee

Visit Carolinas District website

Topsail Sea Turtles

Kathy Zagzebski

Kathy Zagzebski, Executive Director, Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on Topsail Island was our guest speaker Tuesday morning. Kathy was just named executive director in February. Before coming to Topsail she was the Director of the National Marine Life Center, a marine animal hospital and science and education center in Bourne, Massachusetts. Kathy has volunteered for a variety of marine animal projects and organizations in Massachusetts, California, Georgia, Hawaii, and North Carolina. She graduated magna cum laude from Augustana College and received her master’s degree in coastal environmental management from Duke University. Kathy is a member of the Society of Marine Mammalogy and the International Sea Turtle Society. 

Kathy noted that in an average year the turtle hospital can have 100 patients. Currently there are 18 patients in the hospital. Most are Loggerhead turtles, a common species that nests on Topsail Island, some are Green turtles another nesting species here. Occasionally, patients such as Kemp’s Ridley, Leatherback, and Hawksbill arrive from other states to be treated at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. Once a turtle recovers, it is released on the beach to go back to sea. This year, five loggerheads from Massachusetts recovered at the hospital and were released here on Topsail.

By the way, the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center is open to the public now with online reservations. Over 60,000 visitors take the tour every year including this writer who visited with his wife and grandkids before COVID. The Center is an amazing place with both full-time staff and an lots of volunteers. Jean Beasley, the founder of the hospital named in honor of her daughter Karen, has a dynamic personality and love of everything sea turtle so much so that her program has garnered national attention. As she moves into retirement her enthusiasm will be missed. Kathy has large shoes to fill, but her natural enthusiasm like Jean’s will no doubt keep this great turtle conservation program going.

The other component of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on Topsail Island is the Topsail Turtle Project – Nesting Program for conservation of sea turtle breeding grounds on the island. In a given year there are likely to be 100 nests in the beach dunes.

This year so far 41 nests have been laid and found. Since sea turtles come ashore after dark to nest, volunteers must walk every 26 miles of Topsail Island each morning to look for new nests. Nests are located by the tracks that the mommy turtle left in the beach coming and going from the dune where she laid her 80 -120 eggs. Each new nest is evaluated, marked, and mapped by the trained volunteers. If the nest is too close to the tide line or a human dune crossing point, the eggs are excavated and moved to a safer location nearby where they may hatch in 45 to 60 days. Kathy noted that only 1 in 10,000 hatchlings survive to adulthood so every conserved nest is important for these endangered sea turtle species.

Help turtles find their nesting site: Fill in your sand holes when you leave the beach!

The Topsail Turtle Project through it’s staff and volunteers has a strong educational component to promote conservation of sea turtles. Teaching points include a) a warning about the danger of leaving behind your sand holes in the beach where turtles can become trapped, b) leaving your ocean-facing lights off as a light source can disorient a nesting turtle who then leaves the beach without nesting, c) reduce, reuse, then recycle your plastics so that turtles at sea don’t become entangled and die or need hospital care, and so that ‘microplastics’ don’t end up ingested in a sea turtle’s digestive system as is the case with some patients at the hospital.

How you can help

As a volunteer and/or as a donor, the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. To donate or volunteer, please follow this link to their website

Beach Real Estate

Phil Misciagno is a Retired Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman that was stationed in the Camp Lejeune area since 1995. Since his retirement in 2016 he has been with Coldwell Banker Seacoast Advantage. For the last year and a half Phil has been managing broker for the Sneads Ferry and Topsail office. Seacoast Advantage combined has 22 offices and over 770 agents up and down the eastern North Carolina.

Phil’s message to us was ‘he has never seen a real estate market like this one’ in a very, very long time. This market is unprecedented. The ‘seller has power,’ but Phil warns that if you sell be prepared to pay the same or more for the same size house somewhere else. This market is not just a beach market as COVID brought people to the beach for security, but includes at least the entire east coast. Many out-of-staters are looking to relocate and Topsail Island is affordable compared to prices in their home state.

One driving force in the high price of existing homes is the uncertainty involved with new construction. Product costs (lumber, plumbing, electrical, etc.) are increasing in large part due to a backlog in getting product to local distributors. Contractors are going back on their contracted price for a new home and asking the buyer to cover these escalating building materials costs.

Locally, the rental market is very robust as many large-scale contractors are renting units for their employees who are working in the area. For instance, Camp Lejeune has a 2,000 person workforce building new or repairing infrastructure onboard the base.

Phil and Carrie Hewitt, Club President discuss some of the finer points of the home real estate market.

Phil also mentioned ‘Absorption Rate’ to the club in that whereas there was a 7 month supply of homes for sale on the Island, it is now 30 days or less, sometimes a house sells the same day it lists!


John Fahey

Dr. John Fahey, Ed.D. was our guest speaker this past Tuesday morning. Dr. John started off college with a major in Russian language as an undergrad. A skill set he use to help our government during the old Cold War days. Dr. John’s real passion though became education and helping kids learn. After teaching 8th grade science, he knew education was his future. He taught many grade levels and courses in the next few years. At the same time, however, he was continuing his education obtaining a Masters degree then a few years later the Doctor of Education.

As he became more experienced in the classroom, he realized that he had a knack for school leadership and thus applied for and became principal of his school. Over the years he moved from school system to school system first as a principal and then, later as a superintendent in both Virginia and North Carolina school systems. While his daughter was a student at James Madison University he took on an instructor role there so the family could remain close.

Dr. John developed a list of what he consider five basic human needs from his long involvement in education: a physiological need to satisfy nutrition and comfort; a power need to do what you are capable of doing; a love need to love one another; a freedom need to what you want; and a fun need well to have fun in life. Whenever he counseled his students he would always keep these needs in mind. As a principal and superintendent he would be sure all the kids had enough to eat in the cafeteria. Students that became problem kids for teachers in the classroom would be sent to his office. He would figure out how to help the kid by figuring out what need or needs the kid was lacking in self-confidence. Even kids he suspended were welcomed back to school with a clean slate in his mind.

Now, Dr. John did brag a bit about the high school basketball team in Staunton, VA where he was superintendent. But hey with 85 straight wins and three state division championships who wouldn’t brag. The b-ball team was the most popular out of class thing for both students and parents. Often times at away games Staunton had more supporters than the local team.

Dr. John is a multi-talented person, so he had to show some of his magic talent with a device that could defy gravity. The gravity defying device consisted of a metal ring with 5-6 beads. Once the beads were spinning, Dr. John could keep them spinning indefinitely! He even made the machine disappear by ‘turning his back’ to the audience. To show that others could also operate a gravity defying machine, Dr. John invited our fellow Kiwanian, Roger Morton up front to continue ‘operation’ of the machine since it does wear one a bit when you are controlling a gravity defying machine. Roger, however, had trouble handling the machine as it really is not as simple as Dr. John implied to his audience. Eventually, Roger got the hang of it, but didn’t attempt the ‘make it disappear’ act!

From time to time throughout his presentation, Dr. John would mention his hobby of jewelry making. He brought along some displays of his work in sterling silver that resemble various animals from sea creatures to mountain animals and that can be pinned to one’s collar or coat. He is also ‘Sargent at Arms’ for the Topsail Longboard Association, a youth group that Cory Sydes started and has talked to our club about in the past. From his connections with surf board makers, Dr. John expanded his jewelry hobby into surf board resin and the fascinating layering of colors you can achieve with the left over resin from surf board making.

The club was appreciative of Dr. John and his message, so he got several questions from the audience that he was able to answer and extend his message.

KCTIA Foundation

Larry Combs and Rodney Dillman

Larry Combs, Foundation Treasurer

Tuesday morning with attendance improving Larry Combs and Rodney Dillman gave our Club an update on the history, status, and relationship between the Club and the Foundation.

As Larry, Foundation Treasurer, described, ‘The Kiwanis Foundation of Topsail Island Area, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, was formed by the Club several years ago as a way to invest monies from fund raising projects into the stock market. ‘

History: Planning for the Foundation started in late 1990’s with incorporation approved in September of 2001. Tax exempt status was approved/granted by IRS in June of 2002. The first directors of the Foundation were James E. (Jim) Williams, Stephen (Steve) Walter and Allen E. Doyle. The specific purposes for the Foundation as per the Articles of Incorporation were (i) the award of scholarships, (ii) needy children and their families, (iii) disaster relief,  (iv) Boys and Girls Home, (v) sponsored Youth Clubs and,  (vi) service projects of Kiwanis International and the Carolinas District. More recently, purpose (i) scholarship awards has been the focus of the Foundation awards.

In the past, the Foundation has been supported by proceeds from fundraisers including the ‘Spring Fling,’ boat raffles, kayak raffles, a dinner and dance party, reverse raffles and sale of debit cards to name a few activities. In addition to fundraisers, the Club has a tradition of members donating $1 dollar to the Foundation each year based on member age (birthday) and member anniversary (years married), if applicable.

Status: A goal of $350,000 dollars was set so that prevailing interest rates of return would serve as the major source of funding for Foundation awards without the need to dip into the invested principal. This goal was reached several years ago. However, as Larry explained a 501(c)(3) non-profit must continue to raise funds actively to keep the 501(c)(3) status. Given the size of our investment, Larry suggested that we need to average about $5,000 dollars/yr from fund raising to meet this IRS requirement.

Foundation – Club Relationship

Rodney Dillman, Foundation President

Rodney, Foundation President, described the initial investment goal of the Foundation was growth during the period 2008-2019. Now the Foundation Board has adopted a new strategy going forward of capital preservation so that only 20% of the fund is in the stock market. In addition the target is to maintain at least $300,000 of capital in the future, although presently we have a net worth of just over $371,000 dollars as of 2020 year end.

Rodney re-emphasized Larry’s comment about continuing to raise funds through fundraisers and donations. It has not been possible to do much fundraising in 2020 due to the COVID-19 epidemic so donations are critical. Through the end of 2020 the Foundation had received $7,500 dollars in donations; of that amount one very generous member donated $5,000! Birthday and anniversary donations accounted for just over $2,800 dollars, but in past years was almost twice this figure. Again, COVID has impacted the Foundation and Club for that matter, due to lack of member participation and consequentially, diligence in making birthday and anniversary donations.

Rodney also talked about fundraising for Club service and activity needs along with Foundation fundraising by making a distinction between the two very different but common goal entities. He mentioned that the Club should have separate fundraisers for service and activity needs, so that the boundary between the Foundation and Club does not become murky.

In 2020, the Foundation was pleased to award $11,000 dollars to graduating seniors at Dixon High School and the Boys and Girls Home for college expenses. Keeping our 501(c)(3) non-profit status continues to be paramount for our scholarship program.

If you would like to make a birthday or anniversary donation or a personal donation to the Foundation, please follow this link for giving.

Surf City

Buddy Fowler

William ‘Buddy’ Fowler, Surf City Councilman and fellow Kiwanian was our guest speaker this past Tuesday morning. Buddy had several exciting activities and developments in Surf City to relay to our Club. He was very proud of the new Surf City Town Hall and Police Department Building that was officially dedicated and now in use for the Town. Having recently attended a Topsail Island Shoreline Protection Commission meeting in this new facility, this writer can attest to the functionality and professional architectural features of the building!

Buddy was also excited about the town’s Community Center and the programs it offers citizens. He mentioned implementation of a master plan for the new Mainland Town Park project, an approx. 52 acre natural area adjacent to the Community Center that is under consideration for walking trails that would make this area a part of the NC Mountains to Sea Trail route along with other outdoor activities. Many of the town’s park programs have been funded through generous land donations and through the efforts of Chad Merritt, Parks and Rec Director, who has been very successful in acquiring grants to support the program he leads.

Friday before Memorial Day the Town had an official ‘Laying of the Wreath’ ceremony at Soundside Park to honor veterans who have given their lives to preserve our freedom.

Buddy mentioned the new paid parking program in Surf City that will bring in new revenue. The Town had acquired several properties in town on which new parking lots were constructed to aid visitor access to the beach. The parking program is running fairly smooth, but like anything else some first time users of the smartphone app have needed help to learn how to pay and park.

The biggest beach project in Surf City’s history is about to happen according to Buddy. The Surf City/N. Topsail Beach Storm Damage Reduction Mitigation project is one step closer to becoming a reality for Surf City and its beaches. This is a US Army Corps of Engineers project that was approved in 2010 but not funded until Congress provided the Corps with $751 million dollars in Hurricane Florence relief. The Corps then made use of these funds to start ‘new construction’ of the project projected to cost $237 million dollars to construct and an additional $600 million plus dollars over 50 years to maintain through re-nourishment cycles about every 4-6 years. Once Surf City and N. Topsail Beach sign on with the Corps ‘Project Partnership Agreement,’ the first sand could be pumped on the beaches starting in December, 2021.

In closing, Buddy stated that tourism in Surf City was no longer a summer season event, but rather is now year round as visitors learn they can get away from large public places with crowds during times of a COVID pandemic and enjoy the miles of open beaches on Topsail Island. Like businesses everywhere though, Surf City business’s are struggling to find enough workers to provide the services visitors expect.


Tammie Parris

About Our Speaker

Tammie Parris serves as Director, Pender County Economic and Workforce Development at Cape Fear Community College. This year she was elected as the President and incoming chair of the Greater Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism.

In addition to her other roles in the community, Tammie talked to us on Tuesday morning as President of the non-profit Pender Education Partnership or PEP. Due to COVID, the traditional Annual Spelling Bee Fundraiser had to be cancelled last year, one of the biggest fundraisers that PEP holds for the Pender County School District. Many local Kiwanians know that for years Dave and Linda Stipe have been strong supporters of the Spelling Bee and several members of our Club formed teams to compete and donate.

Given some of the same concerns over COVID for the Spelling Bee this year, Tammie came up with an idea for a new event to support the PEP. Thus, ‘Support Our Seniors’ or SOS is a new event that will be an ‘Open Mic Night’ on Friday, June 4, from 6-9 pm at the Burgaw Middle School Field.

One of the headliners will be a performance by the talented GideonsRevel! However, the main idea behind the open mic event is for anyone who has or wants to overcome their stage fright and has a talent to perform whether it be singing, playing a musical instrument, practicing a comedy routine, or what not, and wants to support PEP is invited to sign up and perform. Please follow this link to Sign Up

President Carrie Hewitt (rt) of the Kiwanis Club of Topsail Island Area presents a $500 check to Tammie Parris as a Silver Sponsor for the PEP event. In addition, our own Les King offered Tammie and PEP a $500 matching gift challenge that was matched almost immediately by Kiwanis members in the audience! If you or your company also would like to support this PEP event follow this link to their web page

Mind and Body

Fidel Forde

President Carrie Hewitt introduced Fidel this morning. Fidel is owner of Ignite Your Spark in Holly Ridge. Fidel is a man of many talents …not only is he a motivational speaker, but he is also a Yoga instructor and massage therapist. Fidel specializes in body, mind, and life coaching. He uses his broad experience to equip individuals with the mindset, movement and motivation that will allow them as he says ‘hustle with grace and wake up every day with a spark.’

Fidel introduced himself as the ‘Caribbean Cowboy!’ He immediately connected with his audience and used examples of his person experience to point to many of the problems we face and must over come to improve our self-awareness, self esteem and ‘wake up every day with a spark.’

As an example of the importance of movement, Fidel had he audience stand up and go through several yoga stretches to help relax us and clear our mind.

Fidel is very passion about his coaching and mentoring as he demonstrated throughout his presentation this morning. As a motivational speaker, Fidel grabs his audience and doesn’t let go. He received a warm round of applause after his presentation.

As Fidel says, ‘So… you are ready to create more ease, more joy, more impact, more time, more energy, and have a graceful hustle?’ Then connect with Fidel and take advantage of all he offers. You can visit him on the web at Ignite Your Spark

Scholarship Address

Les King

Our 2021 scholarship address was given by our own Les King. As everyone knows, Les excels in public speaking and this morning was no exception as he quickly brought both of our 2021 Scholarship winners, Ashley Schaefer and George Davis from Dixon High School into his commentary. His talk aimed to steer our two scholars into thinking about “What could be.” Les mentioned that many of us in the audience were mostly senior citizens who have had all kinds of experiences ‘growing up.’ He encouraged our scholars to be open to new experiences at college. Les also said that as young college students you could ‘pivot’ your life course stream to make adjustments guided by the new experiences you have along the way.

Les encouraged our scholars to go beyond what had been their bounds as high school students and participate in new things, and to be receptive to new ideas. At various points, Les would question each scholar such as “Why did you chose the college you will be attending?” and then he had comments about some of the things the students might experience once they were at that particular college.

Another thing that Les asked the scholars to do once they were enrolled was to visit the Kiwanis Circle K advisor at their college and to get involved in Circle K activities. He even gave each a flyer with the Circle K information for that college, so each could get right to it!

During the discussion that followed President Hewitt encouraged the scholars to experience the social side of college i.e. have some fun as experience gained in social interactions can also help you make choices in your life stream. Tim Horner asked one of the scholars who will attend college in New York City if he knew any famous alumni from that college? Turned out a good friend of Les’ is now involved in the leadership of Kiwanis International and had given a keynote address at that college. Eva Krieger, Scholarship Chair, presented each scholar a gift card for their respective college bookstore to buy something fun like sweatshirts, t-shirts, etc. not just books!

Ashley Schaefer pictured here with her Dixon High School Counselor, Ms. Yulissa Balsamo
George Davis pictured here with his Dixon High School Counselor, Ms. Yulissa Balsamo

Pender Tourism

Tammy Proctor

Tammy Proctor spoke with us Tuesday morning. Tammy works as the Director of Tourism here in Pender County and in 2014 she served as the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce. Tammy has been active in producing press releases, articles, and updating websites and social media for non-profit organizations.

Additionally, she writes articles for several other companies and in May 2013, Tammy’s article, “And I Get Paid for This” was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul – Inspiration for Writers.

She is here today to give us an update on what is going on in Pender County.

Tammy started off by talking about ‘We are in the bubble!’ Families realized that the beach was the place to go during COVID-19, since it was safe to travel by car, there were no elevator buttons (in large hotels) to push, and they would be safe in an uncrowded destination. She pointed out that over 500,000 web visitors viewed the Pender tourism video, and they have been receiving over 300 requests per month for their Visitor’s Guide to Pender County.

Tammy pointed out that as it is ‘National Travel Week’ in America it was very appropriate for us to invite her to our Club meeting this morning. Tourism is important to Pender County generating $105 million dollars for the local economy this past year. That translates into a savings for county tax payers as the tourism revenue helps keep the need to raise taxes lower.

Tammy mentioned the ‘Blue Economy’ concept in North Carolina during COVID-19 as anything relating to water and tourism for the beaches and ‘blue skies’ for the western mountains where the public feels safe as uncrowded vacation destinations. The Piedmont area has not benefited from this blue travel as much, since tourism destinations there have mostly large hotels.

Another tourism destination in Pender Co. is associated with the NC Oyster Trail, where tourists ‘Experience the Napa Valley of Oysters’ featuring festivals, great seafood, craft beer, outdoor adventure, and shellfish farm tours.

Tammy talked about Ghost Walk where the Ghosts of Pender’s Past is a sell-out event in a normal year in the Town of Burgaw. However with COVID a retro idea has been adopted for 2021. “The show must go on,” said Stephanie Key, the artistic director of Ghost Walk: The Ghost of Pender’s Past. “To provide ghostly stories in a COVID-19 setting, we’ve gone retro. We’re bringing the Ghost Walk, a drive-in to Burgaw on Oct 23 and Hampstead on Oct 24.” For details on Ghost Walk follow it on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PenderCountyGhostWalk/

Following Tammy’s talk the Club members and our guests from the Jacksonville Kiwanis Club posed with her for a group photo.

For more information on tourism in Pender County follow this link https://www.visitpender.com/


Lindsay Peiffer

Our speaker today is Lindsay Peiffer. She is Director of the “ Girls on the Run” and “Stride” Programs for the YMCA for all of Southeastern North Carolina. Her programs empower young kids to believe in themselves by building self-confidence through healthy living.

Girls on the Run

New Hanover County Schools held Girls on the Run in the school system starting in 2004. In 2008, Wilmington Family YMCA became the new affiliate of Girls on the Run of Coastal Carolina holding the program at three sites in New Hanover County. The Girls on the Run program now embraces 21 counties in Southeastern North Carolina with over 30 locations that serve on average over 1500 hundred girls a year!

Lindsay described the Girls on the Run Program as a life-changing program for 8- to 13-year-old girls (3rd to 5th grade) that promotes girl empowerment by teaching life skills through lessons and running.

The Girls on the Run Program is a 10-week program with after school meetings 2 days a week where girls and their coaches get together to discuss life skills values in between the running, of course.

Some of the values covered are:

  • Self Talk Matters
  • Attitude of Gratitude
  • Real Beauty
  • Untangling our Emotions
  • Empathy
  • Finding Balance
  • Communicating with Others
  • Community Impact Project

The 10 week program culminates in a 5K run where the girls are supported by family, coaches, friends and others in the community who turn out for these runs. Since three age groups are included in the program, on average 60% of those who participated once do participate again.

Girls on the Run Camp

At the week-long Camp GOTR, girls enjoy building friendships in a fun and inclusive setting that includes interactive lessons, being physically active, and expressing creativity through arts & crafts and storytelling. 

To learn more about the Girls on the Run program follow this link https://www.gotrcoastalcarolina.org/our-programs

Missiles and More

Janine Stidley

Janine Stidley was our guest speaker on April 13th. She and her husband Rick, a fellow Kiwanian, moved to Topsail in 2016 to be full time residents after vacationing on Topsail for a number of years. Janine has worked in the corporate sector, the private sector and the federal government as well as small businesses and in education. She has over 35 years of volunteer experience with Military Family Readiness Groups, Community Spouses’ Clubs, Girls Scouts, PTAs, United Methodist Youth Fellowships and other Church Groups as well as the Historical Society of Topsail Island.

Janine is currently the acting director of the Missiles & More Museum and is here today to let us know how things are going with the museum and what we can expect in the coming year.

Janine noted that “The Missiles and More Museum came to life when a group of citizens were concerned for the future of the historical Assembly Building. The building, constructed 1946, was used by the government to assemble missiles for a secret missile operation being conducted on Topsail Island. These citizens began to pursue their goal to preserve the building. After several years of research, feasibility studies and meeting with state and local representatives the building was purchased. Thus, the Assembly Building became the perfect place to house the Missiles and More Museum. The late Betty Polzer’s dream was to promote the history of Topsail Island And through her persistence, her dream was finally realized and the Missiles and More Museum opened its door in 1995.”

One of the coolest new features at the Museum is the ‘PocketSights Tour Guide’ app that takes visitors on a walking tour around the Operation Bumblebee (U.S Navy) test site describing the processes that went on to move missiles from the Assembly Building to the launch pad, fuel, then launch the test missile. Over 200 launches were made during Operation Bumblebee in the late 1940’s. [Note: If you have the ‘PocketSights Tour Guide’ app on your smartphone, then when at the Museum open the app and select “Historical Walking Tour of Topsail Beach”. If you don’t have the app, then you will first need to download it from your app store of choice.]

Janine also spoke about Camp Davis and the role it played in training Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) who subsequently played a key role in ferrying military aircraft around the country and around the world. Incidentally, Janine noted that qualifying women were required to already have a pilot’s license before joining the training program; a requirement not held to men who joined the Army Air Corps.

While the Museum is now open on Mondays to Fridays from 2 – 5pm, COVID restrictions are being followed so tours of the Assembly Building/Museum are one way. In June, plans are to go a 11am – 5pm schedule, Mondays through Saturdays.

Click the link below to visit

Missiles and More Museum

Kids and Reading

Carrie Hewitt and Tim Horner

President Carrie Hewitt led the discussion Tuesday morning on our first week back for in-person meetings at the Surf City Welcome Center. She noted that April 12th is D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read) Day. A national celebration of reading that encourages families to stop everything and read together. Reading is a great way for kids to develop a strong vocabulary and imagination, not to mention concentration and creativity. This is especially true for kids but is also true for adults.  Carrie volunteered several books she had enjoyed during COVID, some of which were, The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer, The Silent Patient by Alex Michalides and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

We then went around the room for Kiwanians in attendance to talk about their suggested reading list. As the discussion continued the theme evolved into a discussion of children books and titles appropriate for children and how Kiwanis should be addressing the question of ‘no child left behind’ when it comes to reading.

Sadly as Tim Horner noted, Les King missed this meeting. Tim was positive that Les would have held the floor for the remainder of our allotted time. As a second choice Tim reflected on his experience as an assistant to a Children’s Library Aid and Storyteller (Gerry Horner). Many times his task had been to review Cladecott and Newbury Award books being added to the library collections. Tim loved the stories and how they could stimulate a child’s imagination. This, to me (Tim), is essential in the development of a child to provide the stimulus for the growth of future education. We, as Kiwanians, always try to emphasize that every child is important, has value, has all the attributes to be important in the future of our nation. If we limit and restrict what a child can read by some set of arbitrary rules we have put a governor, a fixed limit on that child’s mind.

As a point Tim referenced a book written by a friend of Gerry’s, Bill Lepp (illustrated by David Wenzel) titled The King of Little Things. Bill is a nationally-known Storyteller from West Virginia, author, retired Methodist Minister and five time West Virginia Liars Champion. Bill’s book presents a wonderful story of big versus little and what really matters in life. A must read for all. As we reach out to children I hope we can always remember it’s the little things that really count.

Brigade Boys and Girls Club

Keith Williams

President Carrie Hewitt introduced Keith Williams our speaker this past Tuesday morning. Keith is the County Executive for Brigade Boys & Girls Club in Onslow Co. After 32 years in the insurance industry Keith planned on an early retirement, but things quickly changed when he met Bill Mercer, the Chairman of Onslow’s Advisory Board. After some discussions with Bill, Keith realized there was more work to be done.

Keith is a product of the Kennedy Home in Kinston, so working with children was a win-win. Since taking the position with Brigade, they have seen continuous growth. Onslow currently serves over 225 children daily in their after school programs. Keith says, “I do this work with one thing in mind. It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Keith said first of all that people like you (Kiwanians) are why I am here today to ensure that no child is left behind just like your Kiwanis motto. We (Bridgade Boys and Girls Club) enable all young people to be productive and responsible citizens. We reach every child, we never leave any child behind.

What We Do

Keith noted that “Our Mission is to inspire and, through character development, enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”

Between our Brigade Boys and Girls Clubs in Onslow and New Hanover counties we are running 10 programs where 2,200 kids are being served to make an impact in their lives. The clubs went into remote learning centers when schools closed due to COVID which was critical especially when a child did not have access to a computer for online learning. Many children in remote learning centers did better in their course work than those that were not.

On May 25, we plan to transition from remote learning and start our summer camp program with a quick transition in Onslow for 325 kids at four locations. We know as we go into summer camp mode that kids want to enjoy summer, so our activities will be focused on fun activities such as sports, art, etc., plus summer brain gain.

Brigade Boys and Girls Club

To enroll or donate to Brigade Boys and Girls Club, please follow this link https://brigadebgc.org/


Wilmington’s Successful Women

Vicky Janowski

In her introduction of our speaker today, President Carrie Hewitt noted that March 8th was International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

We learned from Carrie’s introduction that Vicky Janowski is the editor of the Greater Wilmington Business Journal, editor of WILMA magazine  and co-director of WILMA’s Women to Watch Leadership Initiative, a multifaceted program to help develop more women leaders in Southeastern North Carolina. She has over 20 years of experience in journalism, covering both local and national news for newspapers throughout Georgia and North Carolina.

Carrie noted that Vicky is a member of the Asian American Journalists Association and has served on its national advisory board. She is a past volunteer with Communities In Schools and is currently a Girl Scout troop co-leader based out of Wilmington, also serving on Girl Scouts-N.C. Coastal Pines’ board development committee.

Vicky started her presentation with a description of the WILMA Leadership Institute which is part of WILMA’s Women to Watch Leadership Initiative. Members of this group go through intensive leadership training, serve as each other’s personal board of directors and have exposure to experienced leaders in the area. Individuals can apply themselves, and companies are encouraged to nominate high-potential leaders in their organizations. Up to 32 women will be selected to be part of the class. The application period for the 2021 Leadership Institute has closed as monthly classes begin in April (virtual initially) and run through December.

Vicky described another focus area: the Mentor Initiative – “where up-and-coming women in the community will be matched with women and men mentors to assist with their leadership development as part of a mentoring program. WILMA holds quarterly group mentoring events open to all readers and not just those in the formal program.”

Vicky briefly mentioned other aspects of ‘WILMA Women to Watch’ that include: Large events to bring women together, Niche groups to connect women with similar business and tech interests, Board preparation to foster and promote women for corporate and civic board of directors, and the WILMA network that connects women in the Wilmington area.

To view the WILMA magazine that Vicky edits follow this weblink https://www.wilmamag.com/issue/wilma/march-2021/

To learn more in general about WILMA follow this weblink https://www.wilmamag.com/women-to-watch/

Surf City Rec

Alexa Matlock

Alexa Matlock, Surf City, Recreation Program Supervisor, was our speaker Tuesday morning. Alexa gave us an overview of the Recreation and Parks program and the adjustments that had to be made with COVID restrictions. The main focus has been to keep the program going for kids,

During school year on Wednesdays when schools closed for students, we offered a program for kids that worked well with time for school work, athletic activities, and science programs. COVID guidelines were in place with distancing and masks. Parents that had in-person jobs appreciated our program.

This spring we have both soccer and tennis programs going. Wellness programs are coming up as we get back to normal. By the way Alexa offered that new athletic fields will be build. One facility with the new fields will be a new 18-hole DISK golf course, although a time line for its construction is not available yet.

Planning for Summer Programs Underway

Plan to host 75 kids per week at Surf City and an additional 35 kids at the new Community Center location in Holly Ridge. The partnership with Surf City will offer the same program at both locations allowing us more space. The Community Center in Holly Ridge off of Hwy 17 is convenient for parents living off-island and/or coming to the area for work each day.

Summer Camp registration already has 675 spots filled out of 800. Field trips are set. Counselors will be interviewed started this week, as we will need 16 counselors for program. We have very good retention of our counselors throughout the summer last year

Summer camp costs $160 per week for first child then $145 for second and subsequent siblings. Kids bring their lunch each day except on Friday when the program provides pizza.

To register for the Summer Camp Program visit https://surfcity.recdesk.com/Community/Program

To learn about all the adult and kids programs, facilities, special events, etc visit https://www.surfcitync.gov/2176/Parks-Recreation

Kiwanis Aktion Club

Diane Cavanagh

A longtime advocate for children and adults with disabilities, Diane Cavanagh, Ph.D., retired to Hampstead, NC in 2017 with her husband Kevin. Her passion for special education began in 1976 in her first job as a public school teacher for children with Down syndrome. Her 40 year career in special education continued as she earned her doctorate and became a professor at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania (ESU), training future teachers and working with families of children and adults with disabilities.

Dr. Cavanagh gave us some background history of special education and the challenges that were faced back in the 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s and even today to help kids with a disability. The first major milestone was making the public education system in this country responsible via federal legislation to educate kids with special needs along with the traditional school population. As a public school educator in the 1970’s, Dr. Cavanagh soon realized that she could make a greater impact on the education of children with special needs by earning a doctorate and becoming a teacher of future teachers. Thus, her University career mirrored the understanding of and the ways of improving communication with children with special needs.

Once Dr. Cavanagh became a member of the Kiwanis Club of Topsail Island Area, her first ‘volunteer’ activity was getting an Aktion Club chartered for our Club. She reminded us, that a Kiwanis Aktion Club serves the purpose of extending the outreach for education and social activities to young adults who have graduated from the public school system and now need a support system as they adjust to life after school.

It is her goal to work with fellow Kiwanians, community members and prospective Aktion Club members in Pender and Onslow Counties to develop a club which will make a positive impact on the community, provide social and leadership opportunities and create a respectful and inclusive environment.

The COVID pandemic has slowed her efforts to make contacts with volunteers and with potential club members. If you would like to become a volunteer for our Aktion Club and/or if you know a young adult who would be served by becoming a member of Aktion Club, please visit our Aktion Club webpage and contact Diane Cavanagh



Our speaker today is a longtime resident of North Carolina who goes by the road name “Bulldog.” For 6 years he has been the Cape Fear President of the biker organization, B.A.C.A. which stands for Bikers Against Child Abuse. BACA is a charitable worldwide motorcycle organization with the intended purpose of empowering abused children.

Bulldog described the terrible statistics of child abuse in the U.S. where 2.9 million children are abused annually and in the worst cases, five kids die daily. Ninety percent (90%) of those kids under 5 years old when they were abused are now child abusers themselves.

Bulldog noted that BACA members are not role models, not mentors, but serve to empower kids. In many cases, after an hour visit these kids are on-board with the support they receive from BACA members.

We leverage biker mystic through our logo which shows our support and deters perpetrators.

Once a child is referred by social services to the local BACA chapter, a primary and secondary support member is assigned by the chapter to meet with the child to talk about how BACA will be there for them going forward. After the initial meeting with the child, all our brothers and sisters ride to that child’s house to empower them. They get a blanket or a teddy bear. Bulldog estimates that he rides 20,000 miles/yr in support of BACA activities.

Each week for a month all the brothers and sisters meet with the child after which meetings are monthly for as long as needed. Of course the primary and secondary are always available to support the child.

One activity Bulldog mentioned was the child’s first ride. The child gets the sense of support because two riders proceed the child riding on the middle motorcycle followed by two riders at the rear–thus the child is ‘surrounded’ by supporters.

The BACA organization has strict rules and procedures to ensure the safety of children who they empower. For a potential new member of BACA, there is a protocol of stages for membership that applicants must complete over a period of a year before ever being accepted into the chapter or to later serve as a primary or secondary for an abused child. Two members are always present when BACA meets with a child.

Bulldog said that BACA meets with the child’s counselor to determine what is needed for the child and use donated funds to cover as much as necessary to help the child. BACA is a 501 3c charity to raise money for children only, members cover bike expenses, but pay no club dues. Visit the Cape Fear Chapter website to learn move about this truly unique organization.

There is a particular moving video on the BACA International website that gives an overview of BACA, what is does, and how it made a difference in one child’s future going from an abused child to an empowered, out-going participant in her high school. Watch now.

Shaka Taco

Cody Leutgens

Shaka Taco, founded in 2017 as a fresh food oriented taco establishment, is the ‘heart’ of Surf City for welcoming people to the beach and Surf City. Cody and his partners empower their employees to facilitate this ‘heart feeling’ at Shaka Taco as a hangout space for surfers and others who want to enjoy the beach scene.  For the last 3-4 years now people come to just to hang out on the porch at the restaurant. 

The Hurricane Florence damage level at the restaurant was significant but they were able to re-open 2 days after the island re-opened as a community-support place for people to listen to music and share hurricane stories– part of the process of a community getting back to normal.

Cody also co-founded Surf City Ocean Fest in 2019 as a fundraising event for the community to support the Red Cross, Boy Scouts and other local community service programs. In the year before COVID, Ocean Fest attracted over 6,500 participants. As Cody likes to say ‘You don’t have to get IN the ocean to celebrate its awesomeness. Some of the highlights of Ocean Fest take place in the heart of Surf City on our music stage and in our Vendor Zone and Beer Garden. We have five live bands, food and beverage vendors, local artists, plus educational booths dedicated to the protection and preservation of our ocean.’ Ocean Fest has raised tens of thousands of dollars over the years for community support.

Cody Leutgens is a Topsail Island thoroughbred. Growing up on the sands of Surf City, Leutgens attended Topsail schools K-12, obtained a bachelors from UNC-Wilmington, and a masters at Chatham University in Pittsburgh. His degrees are in creative writing, pedagogy and education, with other concentrations.

At UNC-W he organized a surf team which went on to win the National Collegiate Surfing title their first year competing. This was a pretty bold entrance to the national college surfing scene as UNC-W win was the first for an East Coast team. Who says the left coast has all the big waves!

Cody loves to write creativity and taught ‘Words with out Walls’ in Pittsburgh jails while a master’s student at Chatham University, then later as a volunteer at the Cape Fear jail as well as at Cape Fear Community College where he served as an English instructor after moving back to the island. About this same time he opened the Surf City Surf School in 2013, but now has changed his career focus to Shaka Taco and the Surf City Ocean Fest charity event.

Boy Scouts of America

Anthony Nigro

Anthony Nigro, District Executive for the NE Cape Fear District, Cape Fear Council of the Boy Scouts of American was our speaker today. To say that Anthony is excited about Boy Scouts is an understatement as his enthusiasm for scouting was evident throughout his presentation. Anthony’s district includes Pender County and North East New Hanover County.

Anthony started off by mentioning some facts about the Cape Fear Council highlighting that there are 83 Eagle Scouts within the Council who contributed over 17,000 service hours to the community that covers eight counties in Southeastern North Carolina. In 2020, Scouts in the Council contributed over 30,000 service hours through volunteering at local food banks, school cleanups, and other projects to help the community. This past year, the Council hosted ‘virtual colleges’ with learning sessions on a variety of topics that drew over 4,000 international kids.

With strict COVID social distancing measures in place, some of the troops are starting to hold in-person meetings again to help relieve the stress that home isolation can cause for Scouts. Troops are also hosting in-person activities for special events during the calendar year.

Anthony mentioned that some of the activities continuing this year include Summer Camp via Zoom classes, camp on weekends with assorted outdoor activities, Scout day in April to help various community organizations by supplying scout volunteers, Scout Sundays to participate in virtual church services, Youth Day this summer to host a big fun day with activities for elementary and middle school age kids, and scouting for food using door hangers to collect and help to store the contributed food at food pantries this fall before Thanksgiving.

Anthony attended college at NC State University graduating with a degree in Sport Management in 2018. After a short stint with the Town of Morrisville, he took the position with the Cape Fear Council Boy Scouts of America in September of 2018 right after Hurricane Florence. My current title is District Executive and he oversees the operations of the scouting program in Pender and New Hanover counties. He is an Eagle Scout, Rotarian, and Kiwanian. Outside of work he spends most of his time with his wife, Taylor, and their dog, Leia, just working on their new house.

To learn more about the Boy Scouts of American and the opportunities for youth that they offer click this link.

Watermans Warehouse

Josh Schieffer

In 2020, Josh and his two sons, Blake and Jacob formed Watermans Warehouse, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in which he currently serves as the Executive Director. Watermans Warehouse provides free and reduced priced swim lessons to local residents who are under financial stress.

Josh made an alarming point that quite a number of people do not know how to swim and it is kind of ironic that as a beach community our focus is on the ocean, sound and activities associated with those water environments. In fact, Josh stated that for kids up to 4 years of age, drowning is the number 1 cause of death, while for kids 5-15 years of age, drowning is the number 2 cause of death.

This is where Watermans Warehouse comes in. The non-profit’s vision and mission is “We will facilitate and introduce Americans to various water related activities, sports and careers while reducing the drowning deaths in America.” Watermans Warehouse purpose states that “We believe every American should have the opportunity to learn how to swim for an affordable price and enjoy water-related activities, sports and careers safely.”

As Josh explained during his presentation, the idea for Watermans Warehouse came from his oldest son Blake who wanted a career in the retail clothing industry after his enlistment in the US Navy was over. With a family interest in all things water associated, Josh, Blake and Jacob (a Topsail High student) came up with the idea of providing a means for kids and adults who never learned to swim to get the swimming lessons they needed by supporting the cost of those lessons though the sales of beach clothing with the Watermans Warehouse logo.

Josh also related that almost 80% of the kids in households with under $50K in annual income do not know how to swim. This where the non-profit kicks in by providing for those qualified kids the opportunity to learn how to swim.
One of the biggest obstacles Watermans Warehouse has had to face is making the connection between their opportunity for providing swim lessons and finding kids who should be the recipients of those swim lessons.
Josh encouraged our Kiwanis Club (KIDS NEED KIWANIS) to help in this effort though our contacts with the local schools in Pender and Onslow counties. Josh is also reaching out to other groups like ours who serve kids in the community to form strategic alliances and to broadcast this opportunity for kids throughout our community.

… about Josh

With a lifelong love of the ocean and a permission slip from his Mom, at 17, Josh Schieffer joined the US Submarine Force. While stationed in Pearl Harbor, Josh attended Chaminade University with a focus on International and Business Communications. After a four year tour (mostly underwater) Josh started a successful career in manufacturing with an emphasis on Environmental Health and Safety Excellence. While traveling to factories throughout the world Josh received a BA in Business Management and an MBA in Project Management. Josh leveraged his Naval experience and brought similar submarine safety systems and cultures to the organizations he served and is currently working for Duke Energy. On the side, Josh runs a small publishing company and has produced several bestselling books in the food and beverage segment. In his free time he surfs, fishes, dives, and spear fishes.

Please visit the Watermans Warehouse website to learn more about this non-profit and how you can help by contributing or volunteering.

Ecological Marine Adventures

Taylor Maready

Taylor Maready owns and operates Ecological Marine Adventures here on Topsail Island. EMA teaches kids of all ages about the ocean through hands on experiences like field exploration, experiments and touch tanks just to name a few. Their motto is “Learn Love Protect. “

Taylor’s enthusiasm and exuberance bubbled over this morning even at 7:30 in the morning! After giving us a few quick facts about the ocean like 50-80% of the world’s oxygen is produced by phytoplanton, algae and drifting plants in ocean surface waters, he zeroed in on his love of everything ‘ocean.’

Taylor, his wife, Amber, and one full-time employee bring the wonders of the ocean and its natural environment to life first hand for kids and their parents. From ocean boat trips, to the sandy beach, to the marsh, Ecological Marine Adventures puts hands-on learning first and foremost for kids.

For example, Taylor described a fishing outing for kids where they netted fish, identified them, measured their key dimensions and logged the collected data much as an actual scientist would before releasing the catch.

Before COVID, Taylor brought his EMA story to elementary and middle schools in Pender, Onslow and other counties in coastal NC. Of course these school visits revolved around hands-on experiences along with stories about conservation and protecting the environment. Taylor believes we can make a difference in our attitudes toward conservation and environmental protection by reaching out to school age kids and their parents.

During the COVID pandemic, EMA has offered in-home programs that have attracted over 100 kids as well as in-person classes for kids when they are virtual learning each week. The in-person classes run for 6 weeks and cover a variety of topics such as ‘Ocean’s Most Toxic Creatures’ looking at jellyfish, venomous fish, and other toxic creatures in the sea.

During the summer months, EMA has an aquarium and touch tank adventure for both kids and parents at their Surf City Education Center located at 106 N. Topsail Dr. Taylor said that they also offer an extensive education camp program during the summer for kids covering all aspects of the ocean and its creatures, as well as the marshes and its creatures on Topsail Island. One quote from the EMA website says it all about Taylor and his passion for learning ‘We offer fun classes, really fun classes, super fun classes, and extremely adventurous classes.

You can visit Ecological Marine Adventures on the web or call them at (910) 515-9751 to find out more about their offerings and programs.

Thank you, Taylor, our Club really enjoyed your presentation.

TI Longboard Association

Cory Sydes

Topsail Island Longboard Association is a nonprofit surf club on Topsail Island. Cory said “Our goal is to promote our sport, and lifestyle while we give back, and have a positive impact in our community.” The Topsail Island Longboard Association (TILA) was founded in 2017 by Cory Sydes to offer youth and young adults with an interest in surfing an alternative to drugs and other addictions that can eventually lead to despair and serious health issues.

The association also aims to mentor the next generation of surfers. The association boasts about 60 members. For many members the association is a family affair with both youth and parents participating. The association is inclusive for anyone in the community including those with disabilities who yet want to surf. Other community outreach groups are also partners with TILA to help kids across the community.

  Cory noted that the success of the association has attracted corporate sponsors such as the Home Depot and other local businesses.

Topsail Island Longboard Assoc. winter surfers

One recurring project that has grown in numbers and frequency is the weekly beach clean up held at the Surf City Welcome Center on Rowland Ave. on Mondays during the summer to remove debris from the beach. The beach sweep has become so well known in the community that the Surf City Public Works asked to join in sponsoring a beach sweep on Fridays each week too.

One big project the association completed recently was the renovation of the veterans VFW Lodge in Holly Ridge. It was a total make over both inside and out. Funds for the renovation came in the form of a $17,000 grant from Home Depot along with other funds collected throughout the community.

Other projects supported by the association include collecting toys and funds for families in need in our area. The association has an international outreach also. They sent surfing gear and supplies to underprivileged kids in Venezuela. Locally, they sponsor the Annual Fall Foamie Classic surfing contest as well as Surf City Ocean Fest.

Surf City Ocean Fest is a celebration of the ocean and surfing that benefits ocean-related charities and environmental causes in and around our community.

The Topsail Island Longboard Association holds once a month meetings. For more information and to get involved in their activities, please follow them on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/TILongboarder/

The Night Sky

by Les King

The speaker this 5th day of January was our own Dr. Les King, Ph.D. who spoke about the night sky and what people have imagined in the past and what we can see today.

Les was planetarium director for 10 yr in PA in his teaching role. Giving planetarium shows, Les’ audience would be ensconced in comfortable high back chairs with their eyes aimed toward the heavens (i.e. star map projected on the domed ceiling). He would then use a pointer to show his audience what a particular planet or star cluster (constellation) was on the projection and the ancients’ history behind the constellation.

In society today, Les pointed out our hectic pace and the lack of time taken to go outside and look up at the nighttime sky. However, the recent interest in the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the evening sky and people staying home during the pandemic has opened up the ‘fun’ of star gazing for many new people. As Les noted, the conjunction on December 21st was thought by ancients to be the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Wise Men to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

Les used a print out he made of the ‘belt’ (three straight across stars in image) of ‘Orion the Hunter.’ Then he described the ancients belief that Orion fell in love with one of the maidens in the seven Maidens constellation and wanted her with him on Earth. Instead, the gods granted his wish by putting him in the heavens to be near her for eternity. Note: The Orion constellation appears to follow the Maidens constellation from east to west across the winter sky from dusk to dawn.

The stars making up the Orion the Hunter constellation in outline. Note: the three straight across stars are Orion’s Belt with his shoulders and feet the two bright stars above and below his belt. His bow is an arch of stars to the upper right of his belt.

For star gazing, Les recommended first the unaided eye then binoculars for more detail. One tip he gave was to use the binocs slightly out of focus to see the ‘true’ colors of the stars from the red to the bright white ones. The best place to star gaze is the beach on Topsail Island looking out over the ocean where background light is at a minimum. Orion is visible in the eastern sky after dusk and ‘moves’ across the sky all night long in the winter. The Milky Way galaxy just jumps out at you in the winter, too!

There are many books and internet sites that describe the 88 constellations. However, for actual star gazing Les recommends the free app ‘Stellarium’ for your smartphone. This app identifies constellations that you point your phone toward in the night sky.

Dr. Les King, a native of Pennsylvania and Veteran of the U.S. Navy, holds a BS, a MS and a PhD. During his career, he taught Physics (tough course), was director of a planetarium, and also a school administrator. He retired to Topsail Island in 1999 where he soon became involved in Kiwanis. He was President of the Club in 2007-2008, Kiwanian of the Year for 2009-2010, Carolinas District 18 Lt. Governor for 2 years, Carolinas District Regional Trustee for 3 years and then Governor of Carolinas District in 2016-2017.

Thanks, Les…for your stimulating presentation to the Club today and for your service to Kiwanis International through the Carolinas District!

Share the Table

Michele Bennett, Chairperson

Carrie Hewitt, vice-president introduced Michele ‘a Virginia native who has lived in the Topsail area for nearly 10 years.  She is currently using her graduate degree in her role as the Housing Specialist for an Assertive Community Treatment Team (ACTT).  In this role, she works out in the community, providing services for clients with severe and persistent mental illness.  Michele began volunteering at Share the Table on Sunday evenings with fellow church members from St. Philip’s Episcopal (Holly Ridge).  Three years ago, she was elected as Treasurer to the Board of Directors but has happily passed on that role to another board member.  Michele was elected to serve as Chairperson this year, her fourth year of elected service. ‘ Today, Michelle is filling for Dawn Ellis, Executive Director of Share the Table that serves Pender and Onslow Counties.

Michelle noted that “Share the Table, Inc. is a faith-based nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization supported by seven charter churches, community churches, civic organizations, and local businesses in Pender and Onslow Counties in North Carolina. Through our free community meal, food pantry and school backpack programs, we are feeding over 950 Pender and Onslow country residents per week.”

The Share the Table program

In normal times, Share the Table offers a food pantry in which clients can choose the food their family needs; and a warm food meal every Sunday for anyone with fellowship at the Share the Table warehouse, located on Hwy 50 between Surf City and Holly Ridge (12395 NC-50, Hampstead, NC 28443). In addition to the food warehouse, there is a Household ministry section with supplies for the home. Another program that Michele mentioned was ‘The MUNCH Backpack Program that aims to address child hunger in our local schools by providing at-risk children with backpacks of nutritious, child-friendly food to take home over the weekends during the school year.’ This program continues in summer months as well.

The clientele

Share the Table is a truly open program with no need to demonstrate a need. Clients with food insecurity have a lack of knowledge of where you are going to get your next meal.  You do not know where supper will come from.  Plus clients have lost jobs.  Some clients are returning after long absences.

The need

In Pender County, 13.6% of people and 21.4% of children are food insecure.  In Onslow County: 15.2% of people and 20.4% of children fit this category. With COVID a staggering 19-21% increase in food insecurity is projected in the two counties for next year.

This year Michele noted that the client demand has shown a 57% increase in food distribution needs due to COVID as clients lose jobs or have work hours cut. Even given the food shortages in food banks, Share the Table has distributed 54,800 lbs of food accounting for 5000 meals counting the backpack program.

The COVID-19 adjustment

Michele noted that COVID-19 restrictions has changed the way Share the Table operates its programs. Now clients drive up to receive pre-packaged food boxes and most of volunteers know clients so are able to adjust food boxes on the fly. However, the Household ministry section has had to close due to space limitations. The Sunday meal and fellowship program has changed to a warm food to go operation.

Although there is no shortage of volunteers, the volunteer’s profile has changed as some of the older volunteers at high risk of COVID have temporarily stepped aside.

How can you help?

When asked by the Kiwanis audience, Michele replied that the best way to contribute at this point in the pandemic is by a monetary donation to Share the Table

Donate online at <https://www.sharethetablenc.com/donate>
Make checks payable to:
Share the Table, Inc.
PO Box 4170
Surf City, NC 28445

You can learn more about Share the Table at their website <https://www.sharethetablenc.com/>

Topsail Beach

Steve Smith, Mayor

Steve Smith, Mayor of Topsail Beach, NC, and fellow Kiwanian presented an overview of happenings in Topsail Beach at our Club meeting, Tuesday, November 17. Mayor Smith noted that COVID-19 cases are increasing in town right now as they are across North Carolina and the Nation. He encouraged people to stay safe during the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday.

Steve noted that Topsail Beach now has 24 hr. fire coverage as additional firemen have been added to their volunteer Fire Department. Another public safety improvement is the hiring of a detective for the Police Department to assist with the changing types of crimes that are occurring in Topsail Beach.  An increase in white collar crimes, and drug cases results in more time needed to take prisoners to Burgaw as no lockup facility is available in Topsail Beach. Thus, patrolmen lose 4 hr of patrol time as prisoners are transported, so the new detective can assist in this process.  With more people moving to Topsail Beach and Topsail Island for that matter, from large inland towns, more citations are being issued after vehicles stops due to issues with alcohol and drugs. Increase in out of towners is also resulting in more trash on beaches to remove.

Overall town finances are in good shape with a 1 yr reserve in the General Fund, a $7 million reserve in the Beach, Inlet and Sound Fund, plus $1 million in the Capital Improvement Fund. However, there will be an unknown impact from COVID on town finances during the next year.

Steve described a sound side project the Town is in partnership with the North Carolina Coastal Federation that will place a living sill at the Rocky Mount shoreline location in town. Topsail Beach also contracted with an engineering firm to investigate and propose possible solutions to sound side flooding, as well as street flooding through a grant of $1.6 million dollars from the State. This state grant was part of a $5 million dollar award to the three municipalities on Topsail Island for Hurricane Florence relief. The grant will also allow purchased of some land on the mainland for a future Emergency Operations Center.

One noted effect of climate change is a lowering of water table level in the Castle Hayne aquifer such that water levels are being drawn down and salt water intrusion is increasing particularly with the continued growth in eastern, mainland Pender County. Thus, both the Town and Pender County need to drill more wells in eastern Pender to meet expected demands.

Topsail Beach has one of the most successful shoreline protection programs on the NC coast. Last year, Steve noted that 1.6 million cubic yards of sand were placed into the dunes and on the beach and an additional 1 million cubic yards will be placed this year through a contract with Weeks Marine. The dredge is coming this week. Crews will set up cross island lines for the delivering sand from Topsail Creek and Banks’ Channel to the beach. The project this year is all about building dry beach as the dune system was addressed in the 2019/20 project. The goal of the 4-month-long 2020/21 project is to end up with 75 to 100 feet of dry beach area along the entire length of town. Funding for the combined $30 million dollar project is mostly from FEMA for the last four hurricanes, plus $7.2 million in Shallow Draft funds from the State.

Mayor Smith acknowledged that in addition to the Board of Commissioners and dedicated staff, several strong committees in town including the Beach, Inlet Sound Committee, the Planning Committee, and the Board of Adjustment Committee and the volunteers that populate these committees are making a big contribution to the Town’s success.

For more information on Topsail Beach visit their web site at https://www.topsailbeach.org/

Holly Ridge

Jeff Wenzel, Mayor

Jeff Wenzel, Mayor of Holly Ridge, NC, and fellow Kiwanian gave the Club an update on happenings in the second, fastest-growing small town in North Carolina. Holly Ridge is a gateway to Topsail Island, but also strategically located between Wilmington and Camp Lejeune on US 17, a major corridor in eastern NC. Thus, a focus for Holly Ridge is commercial growth that brings new industries who customers can be served by US17.

Mayor Wenzel touted the recently-completed Phase 1 of the Camp Davis Industrial Park , which is a large 60 acre tract adjoining US17 that has 45 acres developed containing 11 commercial lots of which 9 have been sold. Jeff moved his photography and graphics company to one of buildings in the Park. Other small businesses have also moved into the Park. A major tenet is Onslow Bay Boatworks, a high end boat builder, who has consolidated its operations into the Park. A second major tenet will be Atlantic Seafood, the major supplier of fresh sea food in eastern NC and beyond. Both companies are bringing high paying jobs to Holly Ridge. Crete Concrete has also opened a ready mix plant in the Park. With the immediate success of Phase 1, plans for expansion of an additional 60 acres for Phase 2 are underway.

Holly Ridge has a small town appeal that has attracted many new residents. Given the close location of Wilmington, Jacksonville, and Camp Lejeune, opportunities for nearby employment that are easily accessible by US17 has led to Holly Ridge’s second-fastest growing, small town moniker. No doubt the Hampstead US17 highway bypass under construction will result in continued growth for Holly Ridge both commercially and residentially.

Citizen surveys have shown a demand for additional recreation facilities and programs in Holly Ridge. Plans are underway to make improvements to the ball park in town as well as adding additional sports opportunities for the ball/municipal park facility. Plans also include adding walking paths to the municipal park as well as developing a dog park so popular in many towns.

This past summer the Town partnered with the Surf City Park and Recs Department to host a summer camp in Holly Ridge. This collaboration between Surf City and Holly Ridge will continue with other programs for kids as well.

Discussions are underway to develop a multi-use path corridor between Holly Ridge and Surf City so that bicyclists, walkers, runners, and other users could one day travel between their home in Holly Ridge and the Topsail Island ocean shoreline without the need for carbon-emitting, vehicular transportation.

Jeff mentioned the NC Coastal Federation research facility at Morris Landing where the Federation continues to seek improvements in their model for ‘living shorelines’ i.e. those constructed with bags of oyster shells to break up wave action along the shoreline and then planted with marsh plants behind the bag sill to stabilize the marsh from erosion. Parking and a pier is available for visitors to observe living shorelines in action.

Mayor Wenzel also introduced the newly-appointed Chief of Police, Michael Sorg, Jr. and Captain CJ Waddell both of whom have had previous experience working together in different law enforcement capacities.

Improvements to Town Hall have been made and expansion of the facility are in the planning stages so that the Town can meet its growing demand for services.

To learn more about the Town of Holly Ridge, click here for the Town webite

Club Training

Dr. Edna Smith, Ph.D.

Edna Smith, Ph.D. assisted the Club in our annual review of the Kiwanis Youth Protection Guidelines. Edna has made this training activity a priority for her contributions to the Club and this year was no different. She was informative and concise as she went through the policies. Edna had already provided the Youth Protection Guidelines policies for 2020, a web resource list for working with youth and a quiz sheet to be sure we were paying attention to her.

Now if you missed our Zoom meeting with Edna, you will have to self study the policies(below) and fill in the training worksheet (below) as you study the policies.

Once you have completed your training worksheet quiz you can check your answers against Edna’s version below. Thanks, Edna. Some of us need help more than others.

Dixon High School

Renee Jones

Carrie Hewitt, Club Vice-President, introduced Renee Jones, Social Worker, at Dixon High School. Renee then gave the Club an update on the counseling and assistance programs she coordinates at the school. She first thanked Kiwanis for the fundraising financial support the Club has given the school. She noted how our over $1,500 dollars of support went to various needs of the students such as clothing, shoes, fidget toys for nervous students in counseling, paying off lunch debt so the kids could get school lunches again. She said her school supply inventory was sufficient for now.

Renee described the new normal for school sessions to prevent spread of COVID-19. High students are divided into two cohorts A and B. Cohort A attends in person on Monday and Tuesday and then stays home to learn virtually on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Cohort B attends in person on Thursday and Friday, but learns virtually from home on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. There are no students at the High School on Wednesdays to allow teacher time to organize for virtual learning assignments and hold teacher coordinating meetings with their fellow teachers. This open day at school also gives the school maintenance staff time to sanitize common areas in the school building.

One the biggest problems for students with the at home learning cycle is access to the Internet especially in rural areas of the school district. While students can ‘Drive in to Connect’ in the school’s parking lot, this is not always an option. Apparently, the Onslow County Board of Education has heard you Renee along with many other teachers and parents in announcing two COVID-19 relief funding efforts of $100,000 dollars each to set up better Internet connections throughout the County School District.

Renee continues in her role as school social worker by conducting home visits when needed, counseling students at school, and coordinating with teachers to be sure all students that need her help are getting it. She did note that student suicide rates have fallen this past year, in part to the family members ‘forced’ to stay home by COVID-19.

Renee noted that the community in general has been very responsive to students in need. She cited the Holly Ridge Food Pantry for their assistance with the Friday food bags for the weekend program. She said anytime she finds a student in need of clothing, shoes, etc. she can reach out to individuals in the community and the needed items ‘just show up.’ With the onset of cooler temperature, coats will be the next item in need.

Rich Pollard, Club President, thanked Renee for her presentation and encouraged her to continue her needed and appreciated social work.

Remote Learning Center

Katie White

Katie White, Recreation Program Supervisor, with Onslow County Parks & Recreation spoke to the Club about a special program she directs that provides a ‘Remote Learning Center’ for elementary and middle school students when the county was under remote learning. Katie has spoken to the Club previously in her role as a parks and Recreation Superviser for Surf City.

Since taking on a similar position with Onslow County, Katie has continued her efforts to provide a learning and recreation environment for kids. With an innovative approach to funding through the national CARES act that provides funds for resources lost due to COVID-19, Katie came up with the idea to ‘extend’ summer camps by setting up a ‘Remote Learning Center’ for kids who were under a virtual learning mandate in Onslow County, so that parents who needed to go to work would have a safe place for their students to learn and interact with staff as well as to exercise (recreate) during the day.

In many cases, the remote learning center saved the family home situation since parents that had to work to earn had a very viable option to leaving their kids unattended during work hours. Although the daily fee is $10, Katie was able through the CARES program to even offer scholarships for those kids whose parents were in financial distress.

Katie found two locations for the Remote Learning Centers, one in the community center in Holly Ridge and the other in Jacksonville. The Holly Ridge location also serves kids from Pender County. About 150 students have participated in the program at the two locations so far.

Click on the link below for a description of the original program

Now that Onslow County schools are back to full time for elementary students, the Remote Learning Center program has changed to provide a safe alternative for Middle School students who are on remote learning for 2 days per week.

Click on the link below for a description of the current program which includes K-5 as well as middle school program for grades 6-8

Katie it was inspiring to us how you figured out a solution for kids that needed a safe place for remote learning and that solved a family problem for distressed families as well as provided for recreation in addition to learning.

Thank you, Katie for bringing this example of how just like the Kiwanis motto, ‘Kids Need Kiwanis’ you found a way to provide what Kids need in these challenging times.

Treasurer Report

Kevin Eitel, Club Treasurer

Kevin Eitel gave a semi-annual treasurer’s report to the club membership on Tuesday morning. Kevin noted that a new electronic bookkeeping system has been adopted that will allow members to pay dues and make contributions online. Additionally, payments can be made via debit or credit card, using Stripe and PayPal. This system should be ready when the next quarterly dues become due.

Further, there is a new electronic database that shows current status of dues for all members, as well as when their next dues payment is required. It automatically updates once payment is rendered, and adjusts for each quarter. He also described some changes in IRS rules that the club has, or will, address, for full compliance, related to Administrative [501(c)(4)] vs Service [501(c)(3)]; and that, as of this FY, we have separate bank accounts for each.

Kevin went through both the Service budget and the Administrative budget, and how income and expenses are assigned to one budget or the other. He moved the tracking of the Annual Scholarships to the Foundation for tax-exempt status, and noted that the Foundation had voted last week to contribute to sponsor the speaker at Boys’ and Girls’ Home at Lake Waccamaw on 21MAY20.

Kevin answered a few questions from the members about expenses and income. He also noted that, in general, the club is going to have to find additional income sources as we are just ‘breaking even’ each year with no fund surplus to carry us over in years when income drops. Finally, we need to find fundraisers to increase our Service Budget, including annual end of FY donations to the Club Foundation.

Warrior Canine Connection

Rick Yount, Executive Director

Hello! I’m Cooper! I’m training to be a WCC service dog

Rick Yount, Executive Director of the Warrior Canine Connection brought along his pal, Cooper to tell us about this unique program for servicemen with emotional and physical disabilities. Rick doing graduate work in sociology in California came up with the idea when visiting the veterans hospital in Palo Alto. Unlike most service dog programs which provide a fully-trained dog to the patient, WCC engages the patient by enlisting recovering Warriors in a therapeutic mission of learning to train service dogs for their fellow Veterans.


Warrior Canine Connection is a pioneering organization that utilizes a Mission Based Trauma Recovery (MBTR) model to help recovering Warriors reconnect with life, their families, their communities, and each other.

“Rick’s new program concept, involving Veterans with PTSD in the training of mobility service dogs for fellow Veterans, has yielded very positive results. He has presented the program concept at forums including the VA National Mental Health Conference and the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies.”

About Rick Yount ….

“Rick Yount has served in the field of social services for 30 years. He has involved animal-assisted therapy in his practice for the past 22 of those years. Rick holds a Bachelor of Arts from West Virginia University and a Master of Science in Assistance Dog Education. He combined his social work knowledge and experience with his service dog training background to develop a novel intervention to help Service Members with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Rick pioneered the first therapeutic service dog training program at the Palo Alto, California Veterans Hospital in 2008.”

Rick was invited by Cathi and Rob Safford, two of our newest club members, because they were aware of Rick and his program before relocating to Topsail Island. Their goal is get a Warrior Canine Connection facility operating in our area to support the warriors at Marine Corps Camp Lejuene. They are looking for volunteers, so please let Cathi know if you want to help in this very worthy cause.

Kiwanis members ‘talk’ to Cooper with Rick Yount looking on.

Pender Schools

Pender County School System Update

Dr. Steven Hill, Superintendent of Pender County Schools, updated the club on the status of Pender County Schools and some of the challenges the school system faces with burgeoning enrollments.

Dr. Smith commented

  • The district is comprised of 18 schools serving approximately 9,300 students in grades Pre-K through 12 and an Early College High School.
  • Our students continually exceed local and state performance on North Carolina End of Grade and End of Course tests.
  • Pender County Schools is the largest employer in Pender County with more than 1,200 staff members.
  • Each school day more than 1,200 employees work to provide an environment that capitalizes on students’ natural curiosity, nurtures their desire to learn, and respects their individual learning style. Our goal is to help children become productive members of society.

Lower Cape Fear LifeCare

Jennifer Andrews, Community Liaison, for Lower Cape Fear LifeCare was our speaker on Tuesday, February 18. Jennifer noted that this is the 40th year for the non-profit previously known as Lower Cape Fear Hospice. The non-profit serves New Hanover, Pender and Onslow Counties.

Jennifer noted that ” You deserve the highest quality of life when living with a serious illness. We offer a spectrum of health services to meet your needs at any point in life, wherever you call home, and provide support for loved ones.”

Jennifer outlined the various programs that Lower Cape Fear LifeCare offers including the following

  • Hospice is not about the last months of life — it’s about living those months to the fullest.
  • Palliative Care can begin the moment you are diagnosed with a serious illness.  Those who receive palliative care in the early stages of their illness can live more and do more of the activities they love.
  • Dementia Care can equip and empower caregivers to navigate the challenges of dementia while providing wide-ranging care, resources and support for patients and their loved ones, throughout the disease’s full progression.
  • Grief Care – We provide families with extensive grief support as they work through life’s changes, free of charge to anyone in the community who has lost a loved one.
  • Veterans – We are proud to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs as a member of the We Honor Veterans program. This program is a collaborate effort of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

Click here to learn more about the programs offered and volunteer opportunities

N. Topsail Beach Update

Joann McDermon, Mayor Pro Tem

Joann McDermon, Mayor Pro Tem, North Topsail Beach. (photo by Jeff Wenzel)

Joann McDermon, Mayor Pro Tem, of the Town of N. Topsail Beach presented an update on happenings in Town. She explained that the Board of Aldermen is in a holding state due to the challenge of Dan Tuman, mayor candidate who lost the election to her as write-in candidate on the November 5th ballot. Superior Court will rule on his challenge of her write-in campaign later this month. (photo by Jeff Wenzel)

Update Outline

  • Storm Repair.  Still recovering from Hurricane Florence
  • Town Hall.  Working with our engineer and insurance company to restore the building to pre-Florence condition.
  • Town Park.  Working with our engineer.  Having trouble with getting bids in the expected cost range. Will re-bid.
  • Dune Repair.  Hurricane Matthew dune repair is underway as a sand truck haul project for Phase 5 (south end of NTB). Hurricane Florence dune and beach repair is scheduled for 2020-2021 and will include sand for dunes in Phases 2-4.
  • Onslow County BeachAccess.  We are working with the county to understand the schedule to repair our large ‘Regional Beach’ access lots. 
  • South- End Fire Station. Structural damage to the fire station will require engineering work to fix damaged components in the building.
  • Surf City/ NTB Federal Project in the planning phases.  Aggressively targeting next year for the project. We thank the TISPC for their years-long effort to bring this important beach project to fruition.
  • COBRA legislationWe continue to work with TISPC.org and Audubon to get the legislative map amendments approved in Congress.
  • Upcoming events in 2020
    • Sledgehammer Half Marathon, 10 miler and 5K run to support the Semper Fi Fund of the USMC was held on Saturday, February 1st along the beach and streets of NTB.
    • Cycle NC, a week-long celebration for bicyclists that tours from the mountains to the coast will end at N. Topsail Beach in October.
    • Ocean City Jazz Festival is coming 4th of July weekend
      • We support this festival through financial contributions as well as provided public safety resources for the weekend event.
      • The festival organizers are looking for town-wide donations this year.
  • Earth and Surf Fest 5K will be held in July.
  • TISPC participation
  • We value our membership in the organization and all it does for Topsail Island.
    • By
      • Assisting with lobbyists and COBRA legislation for NTB
      • Assisting with the prioritization and planning for our island regarding beach related issues and projects

January 21, 2020

We had a potpourri of Kiwanis members give short testimonies about themselves

We learned from Joe Bell that he used to be bigger than he is now and played football.  Now he plays Pickleball and golf, but only when the weather is warm. A modest man, Joe failed to mention that he easily rides away from the Thursday morning Kiwanis bike riders whenever they start gabbing too much. As a newly-elected town commissioner he wants to apply our motto of improving the world “one community at a time” to Topsail Beach.

We learned from Larry Bartholomew that he was a grocer who used to work for Boyce Kay before branching out on his own and then later became a home builder.

We learned from Pat Brennan that he once contemplated entering the priesthood until he met his wife.  He likes to work “behind the scene”.  But as our 2019 Kiwanian of the Year the word is out!

Photos by Jeff Wenzel, Above Topsail

Cape Fear Council, BSA

Anthony Nigro, NECF District Executive of the Cape Fear Council of Boy Scouts of America talked about scouting in the Northeast Cape Fear Council of the BSA and program changes the scouts have made to accommodate young families wanting scouting experiences for their sons and daughters. (photo by Jeff Wenzel, Above Topsail)

The mission of the Cape Fear Council, Boy Scouts of America is to foster the character development, citizenship training and physical fitness of young people, and in other ways to prepare them to make ethical choices over their lifetime by instilling in them the values based on those found in the Scout Oath and Law. 

Anthony relayed some scouting facts

  • The Northeast Cape Fear District includes northern New Hanover County and Pender County.
  • The district has over 1,000 boys and girls across 36 units in the various scouting programs list above. This includes an explorer post at the Pender Memorial Hospital that give high school students opportunities to explore potential career paths.
  • Scouting membership in the District grew by 8% in 2019.
  • There were 28 Scouts in the NECF district who earned their Eagle Scout Award this past year providing more than 2,800 man-hours of community service with their projects.
  • More than 200 scouts attended week-long summer camps last year.
  • Youth Fun Day in September attracted 500 youth and 400 adults to participate in sports, fishing, Cub Scout Adventures and other activities during the day-long event.
  • More than 140 campers attended weekend events at the McNeill Cub Scout World.

Scouting Programs

Boy Scouts of America- a recognized organization for over 100 years

Anthony explained the scouts are not changing their name, they are the Boy Scouts of America. What is changing is the opportunity for girls to become members of Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.

  • Cub Scouts now includes separate girls dens for girls ages 5-10.
  • Boy Scouts has become ‘Scouts BSA’ and includes separate girls troops for ages 11-17.
  • The other programs listed above will stay the same as they already include girls.

BSA Topsail Island Breakfast Fundraiser

Anthony also related the upcoming BSA Topsail Island Breakfast Fundraiser on Feb 28th at 6:30 AM at the Southern Roots Grille, in Holly Ridge. Speaker will be Four Star U.S. Army General Curtis (Mike) Scaparrotti (retired) who himself was a boy scout. Breakfast is free but seating is limited so please RSVP to Rick Stidley –rstidley@aol.com

To learn more about Scouts and the Cape Fear Council of BSA visit them on the web

Future of NHRMC

Lynn Gordon, Legal Officer, New Hanover Regional Medical Center

Lynn Gordon, NHRMC. photo by Jeff Wenzel

Lynn Gordon, Legal Counsel at NHRMC spoke to us on Tuesday, Jan 14th about a “Future Partnership Exploration” for the hospital.

As background, Lynn noted that NHRMC serves patients from New Hanover Co. and six surrounding counties.

NHRMC is unique in the country being one of three large independent non-for-profit hospitals. However, the costs associated with operating a major hospital center are staggering.

So the dilemma is how to adapt to the future of health care for a hospital like NHRMC. With no tax dollars from New Hanover Co. or any of the other six counties served, it is difficult to maintain current levels of service and plan for future needs in staff and infrastructure.

Moving from a ‘Fee-for-Service’ management style to a ‘Value-Based Payment’ style also will require ‘data mining’ of the local population to learn tendencies. This kind of information is the same that retailers rely on to ‘figure’ out what you would like to buy next. But for hospitals it is a whole new arena of operating. The idea here is to learn about health tendencies that of local population.

Changes that NHRMC is seeing in payer shifts. Less private payers and more governmental payers i.e. Medicaid and Medicare.

Volume demands (%) by medical unit at NHRMC are much higher than average for NC urban hospitals (67%)

Partnership Advisory Group is formed with distinguished members from across the community.

Planning for the next 5 years

The decision timeline

No decision has been reached yet! Contrary to what you may see as ‘negative advertisement’ on TV and the internet.

This web link takes you to the NHRMC next-steps list in which you will note that the NHRMC Partnership Advisory Group has not even held the public hearing yet. So they are a long way away from making Decision 2020 for NHRMG.

You can stay informed by signing up for email updates and find presentations at www.NHRMCfuture.org.

Thanks to Lynn Gordon and Carolyn Fisher for providing the PowerPoint presentation of Lynn’s talk.

Topsail Beach Update

Mayor Steve Smith, Town of Topsail Beach

Mayor Steve Smith, Town of Topsail Beach addresses Kiwanis. photo by Jeff Wenzel

Topsail Beach Community Report

Topsail Beach did have a good 2019:

Good Morning

  1. Let me start with a thank you to Howard Braxton and Linda Stipe for their years of service to our town. They were part of a Board that has worked as a team for the benefit of our “Mayberry by the Sea”.
  2. We continued to see recovery progress from Hurricane Florence. We have received FEMA funds for majority of Hurricane Florence and have submitted items for Hurricane Dorian. 
  3. Our town continues to have a strong financial position.
    • Tax collection is 99.4% collected or $1.9m net tax levy or a per hundred tax rate of 29 cents.
    • We have positive balances in all our funds:
      • Beach Inlet Sound Balance – $4.8m,
      • Water System Balance – $1.8m or 215% of Annual Expenditures,
      • General Fund Balance – $2.6m or 89% of Expenditures.
    • We exceed all state mandated reserve requirements for a coastal community.
  4. We have an outstanding staff

Our 2020 year will be productive & positive:

  1. We will start construction of our Storm Mitigation Project which is part of our 30 Year Beach Management Program in about 2 weeks.
    • This is a $24 million dollar project and we expect to put 2.2m cubic yards of sand on our beach.
    • Funding from FEMA & NC Shallow Draw Fund is expected to pay for the majority of this project. 
    • Weeks Marine expects project to take about 60 days to complete.
    • Weather issues are always a concern during this time of year; however, there are weather delays built into plan –  expect to complete our 7 miles of beach before April 30.
  2. Our BIS Committee has now started development of a Sound Side Flood Reduction Program. They are coordinating with N.C. Coastal Federation. We are very pleased with the status of our beach programs.
  3. We will finalize our long-term water & septic security program. We have no issues with water or septic —- however –  
    • With the growth we are seeing in the area (more water systems using the same aquifer we use – remember we are pulling from the side closest to saltwater) and more full time Topsail Beach residents – we need to ensure we have long-term safe water supply.
    • Septic system – again we have more full-time residents. This over the long term with climate change will have an impact on septic systems. The town feels it is important to have a long term plan we can work to ensure we can meet the needs our our community. Our position is to understand our options and have a plan that can be implemented in a manner that is proactive for our needs. It needs to be practical, safe and cost effective.
  4. We will begin the development of our bike/pedestrian plan. It would be nice to see a full island plan developed. We just have more groups and individuals that enjoy these types of activities.
  5. We will add to our administration staff to ensure we continue to meet our community needs – Asst. Town Clerk/Human Resources & Accounting Support. Our Building Inspection Department and Public Works Office will be relocating to the building just north of our police department. Our town staff is focused on meeting the daily needs of Topsail Beach and in our opinion are the best.
  6. 2021 Budget Process has started – I am sure we will have several good discussions on public safety issues and ensuring income sources. I do believe the board in 2020 will review our Hurricane Emergency Procedures, dog leash ordinance, driving on beach permit process, fire department personnel needs, total facility needs which includes an Emergency Operation Center. Board is Focused is on long term needs of Topsail Beach given the increased population of island and area.
  • We also want to thank all our property owners for their willingness to support our town programs through their feedback and service on various committees. We have strong citizen led BIS & Planning Committees.

We wish everyone, safe and a prosperous 2020.

Steve Smith, Mayor
Topsail Beach

Energy Bus Stops at Dixon High

Principal Steve Clarke, Dixon High

On Tuesday morning, December 17, 2019, Principal Steve Clarke at Dixon High School brought his Energy Bus program to Kiwanis.  It was a true learning experience for the audience as we heard an innovative program for high school education inside and outside the classroom. Principal Clarke said that “positive people + positive energy = positive results.” In math terms and this may need to be verified, Pp x Pe = Prx3 (Pr cubed). This is the Energy Bus.
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