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Archive for July, 2009

Peanut plant still burning after Thursday night fire

Friday, July 17th, 2009

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The two buildings belonging to the EJ Cox Peanut Plant are chock full of nuts; peanuts that will be roasting for at least another week. “They’re burning at the top; they’re burning at the bottom. We can’t put them out, there is not enough water here,” said Bladen County Fire Marshal Mitchell Byrd.

Cox peanuts caught up in flames late Thursday night, following a strong storm that hit Bladen County and the surrounding area. The plant has been around since the early 1900’s, supplying peanuts to large companies like Planters. The buildings were only two of their storage facilities, but still a significant amount of inventory lost.

Johnnie Lewis has been the maintenance contractor for the Cox Peanut Plant for more than ten years. He watched as the flames swallowed his place of employment. “It was shocking because this is a landmark, and it’s just devastating.”

The plant employs about fifty-five people from Bladen and Columbus counties. Officials and workers from the plant would not talk to us on camera, but said everyone was back at work today, and they don’t anticipate losing any jobs at this time.

But residents who watched the well-known factory catch up in flames said a piece of their small town is gone, for now. “It’s going to not only affect Clarkton, but it’s going to affect other communities as well,” said Clarkton resident Shamekia Johnson.

Fire officials are looking into the cause of the blaze. They suspect it may have been a lightning strike or an electrical fire.

Luckily, everyone was evacuated in time, and no one was hurt.

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videoNearly 20 fire departments from Bladen and Columbus County responded to the blaze that started late Thursday night. The two buildings belonging to the EJ Cox Peanut Plant are chock full of nuts; peanuts that will be roasting for at least another week.

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Four car accident in Leland, car catches fire

Friday, July 17th, 2009

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A four car accident on Highway 17 delayed traffic for more than 2 hours Friday morning. Leland Police said the impact caused one car to burst into flames.

A truck also crashed into the back of a sedan. At least 10 people were involved in the accident.

Six people were taken to the hospital; all are expected to be okay.

The cause of the accident is still being investigated.

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A four car accident on Highway 17 delayed traffic for more than 2 hours Friday morning. Leland Police said the impact caused one car to burst into flames.

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Construction on Wilmington bypass leaves large gap in road

Friday, July 17th, 2009

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Thursday we reported that more than $20 million in federal stimulus money was going to speed up construction on the Wilmington bypass. The part of the bypass connecting North Market Street to Highway 421 is complete.

You would think the next thing they would build is the B leg, going west from what is already been finished. Instead they are going to build the segment from Highway 17 in Brunswick County north to 74/76, leaving a big gap in the middle.

There is a reason for this, said the DOT’s Allen Pope. “We started looking at the B section and wanted to build a piece of the B section. The first connecting piece, from 421 over to Cedar Hill Road is all bridge and is a $140 million project by itself. It really got down to economics and what we could use the dollars for to build on the Wilmington bypass.”

Pope said the southern leg could be completed within three years. The middle section goes to construction in 2012.

By 2015, the Wilmington bypass should be completed from start to finish.

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Thursday we reported that more than $20 million in federal stimulus money was going to speed up construction on the Wilmington bypass. You would think the next thing they would build is the B leg, going west from what is already been finished. Instead they are going…

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Local students awarded fellowships to craft education center

Friday, July 17th, 2009

By Carolyn BowersStarNews Correspondent

The Penland School of Crafts is known internationally as a center for craft education, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, but recent student Brook Sinkinson Withrow describes it simply as “an artist’s paradise.” Withrow, a resident of Wilmington, and Ariel Chornsbay, of Oak Island, are both graduates of the University of North…

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Abandoned crab pots snag the crab industry

Friday, July 17th, 2009

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It is just another day on the water for Andy Wood. He is hunting out abandoned crap traps across North Carolina. In a short trip, two traps were found off Surf City. Blue crabs are threatened the most by these so called derelict pots. “They are lost in these pots. They will die in those pots and be eaten by more blue crabs that die, and are attracting more blue crabs. It is a perpetual cycle,” he said.

Crabs find their way into the abandoned traps through a hole. And once they get in, they can not get out. The irony of the situation is that these traps are actually taking crabs away from the very same fishermen that put them there.

“The negative impact is one, these cost about thirty or more dollars a piece. So they are out of pocket money there,” said Wood. “Plus they’re harvesting crabs that would otherwise be harvested for the crab industry, which is one of the largest fishery industries in the state.”

Wood and his crew clean out the traps and take inventory of any marine life they find. On a typical day they find as many as 30 crab pots.

The hope is that laws will be passed to regulate the use and upkeep of these traps, making it illegal to leave the ghost traps in the open water. One proposal would also require crabbers to put identification plates on their traps.

About 17 percent of the traps cast each year are abandoned in the water. Andy Wood is also working on a way to recycle the metal from recovered crab pots.

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videoA local man is heading up a government project to rid our waters of abandoned crab pots. They are more than just an eye sore. WWAY’s Tim Buckley explains.

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