Welcome to Southern Shores, Mr. Ogburn.

It is always a bit risky to attribute credit to someone without confirming that the credit is indeed due, but that is what The Beacon did yesterday in attributing to new Town Manager Cliff Ogburn what we called a “cleanup” in the Town’s website homepage.

See The Beacon, 6/29/20.

We basically wanted to acknowledge Mr. Ogburn’s arrival and welcome him, and we did not want to call him. We would like him to have a month on the job before we ask him for a Q&A. Asking about the website seemed just too trivial.

We also wanted to slip in an explanation as to why we have not provided more coverage of the Town Council’s June 16 workshop session without drawing too much attention to our explanation, which is, essentially, it pains us to report on much of the discourse that occurred.

We are trained to be prepared and to form smart, independent opinions based on our preparation, and if we were in elected public office, we would sacrifice sleep and personal time, and pick up the phone and call second-opinion experts, to ensure that we truly are prepared. We revel in critical thinking.

We also are fairly adept at recognizing non-answers from consultants, who do not wish to answer questions—even when they go on interminably and sound impressive—and we would never fail to follow up a non-response with a more pointed question that pins the non-responsive party down.

But we are not every person, so although we are critical, we are also mindful that we set our sights high, and we do not wish to deliver too many public low blows to those who do not.

We cut a few corners ourselves yesterday in order to write about Mr. Ogburn’s arrival and the beach-nourishment discussion that we did not cover, and to get away from COVID-19 case counts and community spread for a change.

Today, we discover that not much actually has changed on the homepage. The clutter at the top–the banner–is still there, unfortunately. We did not see it yesterday, but that may be because we had hidden it a few days ago. We always hide it. It is a tacky, low-tech format to use on a government website. It also is redundant.

But, much to our delight, we discover that the “Rumor or Fact?” and “Legislation Update” links are history—which is appropriate because all they did was preserve history that no longer has relevance.

So, we say bravo to whoever is making changes to the Town website. Please continue. You have a long way to go before the website is both useful and friendly, but we are optimistic it can be done.


The left turn from U.S. Hwy. 158-east on to South Dogwood Trail will definitely be blocked this Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., per the Town Council’s vote on June 1. Southern Shores police will be on the scene to enforce the turn prohibition, and vehicle counters will be operational throughout the town.

The Town has issued no further announcements about this weekend.

The Town Council is expected to vote on a 2020-21 budget amendment next Tuesday to fund three no-left-turn weekends this summer. The suggested dates for the other weekends are July 25-26 and Aug. 1-2.

Barrels will be placed in the left-turn lane on U.S. Hwy. 158, and the left-turn signal there will continuously show a solid red, if the N.C. Dept. of Transportation follows through on its agreement to reprogram the light so that it goes not go through its green-yellow-red cycle.

If anyone cycles up to the intersection on Saturday and can catch a glimpse of the left-turn traffic light, please let The Beacon know whether it is fixed on red. As usual, we will be encouraging residents’ comments on the Facebook page.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 6/30/20





Of the 20 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Dare County since last Friday, 15 of them acquired the virus through direct contact with family members or close acquaintances, according to Dr. Sheila Davies’s update today.

The Director of the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services posts two case-transmission updates every week, one on Tuesday, and the other on Friday.

In an unusual move, Dr. Davies reported yesterday that many of the recent cases—18 of whom are locals—acquired the virus through direct contact with household members who attended a large gathering where people did not maintain social distancing or wear face coverings. (See The Beacon, 6/29/20.)

She made it clear in her report that those locals who did not take infection-control measures chose “not to do the right thing.”

She also said that people who are not sick and are seeking COVID-19 diagnostic testing at local urgent care centers “because they are curious” should cease and desist from that practice and instead call the Dare Care COVID-19 call center at (252) 475-5008 for guidance.

People who are sick should contact their healthcare providers before visiting an urgent care center. They should not simply show up.


The transmission breakdown of the 18 Dare County resident cases, according to Dr. Davies’s update, is as follows:  

 *12 of the cases are connected, either through family relationships or close acquaintances. All 12 acquired the virus through direct contact: Four are symptomatic, and eight are asymptomatic. (These would seem to be some “large gathering” folks.)

*Three of the cases are members of another family. They acquired the virus through direct contact with a person whose positive test result was reported by the DCDHHS on June 24. All three of these people are symptomatic.

*One is asymptomatic and acquired the virus through direct contact with a person whose positive test result also was reported by the DCDHHS on June 24.

*The remaining two locals have no connection with each other, and it is assumed both acquired the virus by community spread. One is symptomatic, and the other is asymptomatic.

The two non-resident cases are not connected, according to Dr. Davies’s update. One of them is asymptomatic and acquired the virus by direct contact outside of Dare County, and the other is symptomatic and most likely acquired the virus through community spread outside of Dare County.

Dr. Davies reports that contact tracing of the 18 residents has been completed, and DCDHHS staff have identified, notified, and directed to quarantine for 14 days from the last date of exposure all of the contacts.

Quarantine, Dr. Davies explains, “separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.”

DCDHHS calls people who are directed into quarantine to check on their health status and compliance. Noncompliance can result in criminal charges.

Isolation, the health director distinguishes, “separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.” A violation of an isolation order also can result in criminal charges being brought against the noncompliant person.


Today, Dare County is hosting, in partnership with Mako Medical Laboratories of Raleigh, a community COVID-19 antibody and diagnostic testing clinic in Kill Devil Hills.

The clinic had 525 appointments reserved, according to Dr. Davies, who says the results of the tests will be provided in next Tuesday’s update.

She also reports that area healthcare providers are now receiving COVID-19 test results from commercial labs an average of four days after they submit the specimens. Previously, the turnaround time was from 48 to 72 hours.

Dr. Davies attributes the delay to an increase in testing.

Between June 22 and June 28, she says, 578 COVID-19 diagnostic tests were performed, of which 44 were positive. That is a positive test rate of 7.6 percent.

More people presented to the hospital emergency department during the week of June 22-28 with COVID-19-like symptoms, according to her report. The monitoring of these people is known as syndromic surveillance.

“We are also seeing an increase in the number of sick individuals presenting to the area urgent care centers,” Dr. Davies says.

No new confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported yet today.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 6/30/20



Social distancing is key to preventing the spread of COVID-19. So is wearing a face covering whenever you cannot maintain social distancing with others.

The elderly man who was hospitalized recently for COVID-19 contracted the viral disease through direct contact with household members who attended a large gathering where people did not maintain social distancing or wear face coverings, according to a message released this afternoon by Dr. Sheila Davies, Dare County’s health director.

In fact, the majority of the recent COVID-19 cases in Dare County, Dr. Davies further explains, are “locals who acquired the virus by direct contact” with others at this same large gathering, not by contact or community spread in a restaurant or a grocery store, as you might suspect.

The message: People are not being infected by out-of-town visitors who brought the virus with them.

But there is no denying that confirmed COVID-19 cases have increased more than 400 percent since May 16, when the ban on visitors was lifted.

“The spread we are seeing currently is local-to-local spread because people are not following the guidelines,” Dr. Davies says.

You cannot state the facts any more plainly than that: The recent spread of COVID-19 is being caused by Dare County residents who are not acting responsibly.

While the majority of the people who recently tested positive for COVID-19 are “only experiencing mild to moderate symptoms,” the health director says, the older patient upon whom we earlier reported “required treatment at the hospital.”

Dr. Davies asks everyone living or visiting Dare County to take COVID-19 “seriously” and to “play your part in preventing and slowing the spread” by:

*Not attending or hosting gatherings of more than 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors [as Phase Two requires];

*Following the 3 W’s—wear a face covering, wait six feet away, and wash your hands frequently—when you leave home;

*Sharing all details of your activity during the timeframe that you discuss with a contact tracer. [This is the first time that we’ve heard that people are not being forthcoming with contact tracers.];

*Quarantining for 14 days when you are contacted by the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services and informed that you are a direct contact; and

*Remaining in isolation until you are directed otherwise by the DCDHHS staff.

Anyone who violates a quarantine or isolation order can be charged with a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment, according to Dr. Davies, who would rather not resort to criminal charges, which exist, she says, “to protect the public from individuals who choose not to do the right thing.”

Dr. Davies also reveals in her message that “a large number of people” are getting tested for COVID-19 at urgent care centers “because they are curious or they believe they [may have been] in direct contact” with someone who may have tested positive.

If you are sick, she advises, you should call your healthcare provider before you visit an urgent care center. Do not simply show up.

If you are not sick and merely curious, you should call the Dare Care COVID-19 call center at (252) 475-5008 for guidance.

“We must work together,” she concludes, “to ensure our healthcare providers are available for those who truly need them.”


 Since we posted our earlier blog about the hospitalized COVID-19 patient, the DCDHHS dashboard has reported that three more people have tested positive: Demographically, they are two Dare County residents and one non-resident; two men and one woman; two between the ages of 18 and 24, and one between the ages of 25 and 49.

All three are in home isolation, the non-resident being transferred out of the area.

The dashboard also reports that one of the two Dare County residents who was hospitalized has been discharged to home isolation.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 6/29/20


CV test GENERIC 0010 

A Dare County man who is age 65 or older has been hospitalized with COVID-19, according to a report on today’s Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services’ dashboard, which does not identify where the man is hospitalized.

The local resident is the first person in the higher-risk, older-age group to test positive for COVID-19 in Dare County since June 16.

During the past two weeks, 51 other people under age 65—most of them under age 50—have tested positive in Dare County for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The county’s case total is now 94, of whom 10 are age 65 or older (about 11 percent).

On Friday, the DCDHHS confirmed that Dare County is experiencing widespread community transmission of COVID-19. (See The Beacon, 6/26/20.)

Today’s dashboard also reports that since yesterday, five Dare County residents have recovered from COVID-19 or been symptomatically cleared. Of the currently active 31 cases among locals, 29 are in home isolation, and two are in the hospital, including the case reported today.

Three non-residents diagnosed with COVID-19 who were isolating in Dare County have recovered or been symptomatically cleared, the dashboard also shows. That leaves three non-residents still in isolation here, and 21 others who have transferred to isolation in their home counties.

The patient reported today is only the third to be hospitalized, according to The Beacon’s accounting. One of the previously hospitalized patients died.

The DCDHHS will give an update tomorrow on the COVID-19 cases diagnosed locally since its last report on Friday. We will be very interested to learn any details it is willing to provide about how the gentleman who is hospitalized contracted the virus.

STATEWIDE, the COVID-19 metrics continue to be higher than Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, would like to see.

According to today’s NCDHHS dashboard, 1,342 new cases were diagnosed in the latest 24-hour reporting period, with a positive-test rate of 9.3 percent. Hospitalizations declined by 47 to 843. Hospitalizations hit a single-day high on June 23 with 915.

We will report at the end of the day any additional COVID-19 cases that may be confirmed by the DCDHHS dashboard.



Cliff Ogburn started work as Southern Shores’ new town manager last week.

The tenure of new Town Manager Timothy Clifton (“Cliff”) Ogburn has begun in one very visible way: by the start of a much-needed revision of the Town of Southern Shores’ website homepage.

We hope Mr. Ogburn, who resigned his job as Nags Head town manager to come to Southern Shores, does not stop with the improvements made so far. There is so much more that he can do with the website to make it of practical value to property owners and residents—like the highly informative and accessible Nags Head town website is.

The Southern Shores website has long been an unattractive, user-unfriendly platform whose design lends itself to concealment, not to the dissemination of public information.

Until former Town Councilmen Gary McDonald and Fred Newberry advocated for it, the website did not even have a search function. Finding information on the site was often—and still can be—a matter of frustrating trial-and-error.

Even today, if you click on “Beach Nourishment” in the “Most Requested” topics column on the homepage—a list that should be alphabetical—you will be directed to far less information than if you submit a search for “beach nourishment.”

The first obvious improvement to the homepage is the elimination of all of the clutter at the top of the page. The placement of news bulletins in this location has never been effective or eye-pleasing, just messy and hard to read.

Another new improvement to the homepage—which has been an obvious need for ages—is the publication of actual news in Southern Shores. There is now a comprehensive news thread that you can skim through after checking on the “News” button on the homepage.

The top news item on the thread should be an announcement that Mr. Ogburn started working last week. His hiring was announced in the Town newsletter, but not his actual arrival date.

We are hopeful that Mr. Ogburn will reach out to Southern Shores property owners and residents through the website and encourage an open and free-flowing dialogue, as well as an amicable relationship. The website can be an excellent communication tool in the right hands.

We also would like to see him do the same in the newsletter, which currently is devoid of news that is of much consequence to anyone who lives in Southern Shores or owns property here and lives elsewhere.

We would like to suggest that the “Rumor or Fact?” button on the homepage be eliminated or retitled.

The phrase, “Rumor or Fact?,” dates to a time when some property owners distrusted the Town Council and the former Town Manager, and relations became adversarial. It is a phrase associated with the former Town Manager, who did not reach out to residents in a spirit of cooperative and friendly problem-solving, and we know that Mr. Ogburn’s style is going to be much different.

There is some useful information in the “Rumor or Fact” thread, but it is presented in the context of conflict. We would like to see this information rewritten and presented in a manner that is for the benefit of property owners and residents, not for their apparent correction. Some of these “facts,” such as the item about yard signs, even carry veiled threats.

The information accessible through the “Legislation Update” button is more than 3 ½ years old. We would love to be able to read about recent relevant legislation and suggest deleting any news items that pertain to legislative matters before 2019.

Much cleanup remains to be done of the Town’s website, but we congratulate Mr. Ogburn for starting the process.

We look forward to seeing if this week’s Town newsletter has his imprint on it, too.


We have been struggling since June 16 to figure out how to report upon the discourse about beach nourishment that occurred among certain Town Council members at their workshop meeting that day.

We find it demoralizing when critical thinking and informed research are lacking in important decision-making discussions by elected officials. We expect elected officials to read and understand reports filed by consulting “experts,” to ask searching questions of them—not just to defer to them—and to do their homework in a thorough manner.

If we were to illustrate what we mean by actually quoting Town Council members’ questions and reasoning, we would appear to be picking on people. People might think us harsh and unkind—“mean-spirited” is the word that Councilman Jim Conners used—even though elected officials should be held to high standards and should expect their words and thinking to be scrutinized.

We have consistently opposed municipal government based on cronyism.

That someone on the Town Council actually asked the Charlotte-based financial consultants—who appeared in the meeting via Zoom—the difference between general obligation bonds and special obligation bonds greatly demoralized us.

Starting with its first presentation to the Town Council on Feb. 26, 2019, the father-son financial team of DAC Associates has consistently promoted special obligation bonds and discouraged or ignored general obligation bonds, which could be used and likely would cost the Town less in interest.

I distinctly recall asking the Town Council in public comments last fall why it wasn’t looking at general obligation bonds as a means of financing a nourishment project and being told by former Town Councilman Chris Nason, in a rare personal response, that he didn’t know.

Until June 16, the new Town Council has steadfastly remained focused on special obligation bonds, to the exclusion of any other means of financing. Why? Because DAC Associates told them not to bother? That is not a good enough reason.

We will not say any more about our standards and our frustrations. Instead, we will conclude simply with the observation that the Town Council unanimously approved “pursuing” beach nourishment on June 16, but left open many questions about how to do that, including the means of financing a project.

We would like to give Mr. Ogburn time to settle into his job and begin to assert his leadership. We hope he will provide the critical thinking and informed research that should accompany any beach-nourishment project in Southern Shores.

He certainly has experience with beach nourishment: Nags Head has done two projects in the past nine years.

We would like to feel that our Town government is handling this enormous and expensive undertaking with knowledge and foresight.

The next Town Council meeting will be Tuesday, July 7, at 5:30 p.m., in the Pitts Center. We will post details about the agenda and participation in the meeting when they are available.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 6/29/20



Fourteen more people—most of them young locals—have tested positive in Dare County for COVID-19, according to an update this evening on the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services’ dashboard.

Of the 13 Dare County residents among the 14 new cases, one is hospitalized, the dashboard reports. The other 12 are in home isolation. The sole non-resident has transferred to isolation in his/her home county.

Eight of the 14 new cases are female, and six are male.

Today’s case report is a new single-day record for cases reported in Dare County, the previous high being nine cases, which has been set twice, most recently last Thursday.

Ninety-three people—56 residents and 37 non-residents—have now tested positive for COVID-19 in Dare County since March. Forty-eight are males, and 45 are females.

The age breakdown of the 14 new COVID-19 cases is:

*Two are 17-years-old. The DCDHHS dashboard reports that 11 of the 93 cases, or about 12 percent, are 17-year-olds.

*Seven are between the ages of 18 and 24, bringing the case total in this age group to 23, or about 25 percent.

*Four are between the ages of 25 and 49, increasing the age-group case total to 28, or about 30 percent.

*One is between the ages of 50 and 64, increasing this age-group case total to 22, or about 24 percent.

The last time a person age 65 or older tested positive for COVID-19 in Dare County was June 14, two weeks ago.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 6/28/20


CV test GENERIC 0010 

Two more Dare County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, according to today’s Dept. of Health and Human Services’ dashboard, bringing the local case total to 79.

Forty-three of the confirmed COVID-19 cases are residents, and 36 are non-residents.

The two people who tested positive today for the virus are both women between the ages of 25 and 49 who are now in home isolation.

Statewide, COVID-19 metrics today continued to show a high single-day case total (1,719, the third-highest single-day total), a high number of hospitalizations (888), and a positive-test rate approaching 10 percent (9.3 percent), according to the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services’ dashboard.

Fifteen more people died as a result of a COVID-19 infection during the latest 24-hour reporting period, bringing the number of fatalities in North Carolina to 1,318.

The Beacon, 6/27/20


A steady stream of vacationers turns left on to South Dogwood Trail from U.S. Hwy. 158-east.

The intersection at U.S. Hwy. 158-east and South Dogwood Trail/Woods Road is flowing freely this weekend, without a left-turn prohibition blocking entry into the Southern Shores residential area.

At each left-turn cycle, we counted seven to eight vehicles getting through–thus accounting for the current staggering of traffic.

Traffic on Hwy. 158-east through the intersection was moving well at noontime.

The Beacon, 6/27/20




Good morning, all.

Judging by traffic conditions of the past two hours, today is going to be a tough day on the Southern Shores residential roads.

I am not going to monitor the traffic today on Hickory Trail and East Dogwood Trail, as I often do, because I anticipate dedicating next weekend—when we have a no-left-turn weekend in effect—to traffic surveillance and reporting.

If today’s traffic becomes what I termed hideous and despicable two weeks ago, I probably will feel compelled to write something. But, generally speaking, I’m going to leave comments to others who would like to report on conditions they’re experiencing—as well as to commiserate with others in town.

Please feel free to comment on the Beacon blog and the Facebook page and to send photographs of traffic conditions near you. Please send your photos to me, with a note about the time they were taken and the exact location, at ssbeaconeditor@gmail.com.

Thank you. I wish you a safe and stress-free Saturday.

Ann, 2/27/20