Environmentally Speaking

Secretary van der Vaart visited Edenton’s beautiful, historic lighthouse this week, which recently received a $125,000 grant from DEQ’s Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access program to build a ramp so that the lighthouse could be accessed by the public. Read about the Secretary’s visit in the Elizabeth City Daily Advance: http://www.dailyadvance.com/News/2016/07/20/N-C-environmental-chief-visi...

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A century-old textile mill in Winston-Salem is being transformed into loft apartments, thanks to collaboration between North Carolina entrepreneurs and Brownfields program staff with Governor Pat McCrory’s administration. Just six blocks from downtown Winston-Salem, Mill 800 opened for business in April and has since leased roughly half of the 170 available apartments. The $35 million project represents the most recent success story from the state Brownfields program, which enables the cleanup of previously contaminated property so it can be safely used again.

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In this video, Secretary Donald R. van der Vaart of the state environmental departments explains how the new coal ash law sets deadlines for providing well owners with water connections, requires dam repairs, and mandates the recycling of coal ash. Assistant Secretary Tom Reeder describes decades of neglect on coal ash and the action that has been taken since 2013. You can watch video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BsbsVxWkP4&feature=youtu.be You can read the new coal ash law here: http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2015/Bills/House/PDF/H630v5.pdf

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Many state employees derive satisfaction knowing they serve to help others. But altruism takes on new meaning for public servants like Elizabeth Werner and Troy Harrison. When they’re not working for the state Division of Waste Management, there’s a good chance they’re volunteering their time to help someone else. “It makes me feel good,” says Werner, who works in Raleigh. “I just enjoy helping others.”

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Did you know that blue crabs consistently rank at the top of North Carolina’s commercial fisheries, both in pounds sold at the dock and in the value of the landings? Here’s some other fun facts about this important species: A mature male crab is called a “jimmy” and is easily recognized by the brilliant blue shading on his shell and claws. Adult female crabs are called “sooks” and are distinguished by the rounded aprons on their underside and red tips on their claws – just like a woman would paint her fingernails.

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More than 20 North Carolina students were recognized this week for projects that focus attention on air quality issues across the state. Sheila Holman, director of the state Division of Air Quality, presented awards for the agency’s annual AQ-IQ contest at a ceremony in Asheville. “Seventh-grade students from across the state worked in groups of up to four to make a poster, game, video or artistic project that highlighted an air quality problem and proposes a solution to that problem,” Holman said while presenting the awards at the Western North Carolina Air Quality Agency in Asheville.

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Even the most novice coastal angler is familiar with the fish that oinks and fits in the palm of your hand. More experienced anglers know that these fish can grow longer than a tall man’s forearm. Case in point, the latest state record pigfish certified by the state marine fisheries division measured 15 ½ inches long and weighed a whopping 2 pounds, 12 ounces. That beats the former state record pigfish by 8 ounces. Rocky Mount resident Jason Edwards caught the fish May 23 while fishing on a head boat about 30 miles southeast of Cape Lookout.

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