Emerald Isle honors retired fire department captain with Order of the Long Leaf Pine

Emerald Isle Mayor Eddie Barber, middle, presents retired fire department Capt. Bruce Norman the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Tuesday in the town commission boardroom as Commissioner Candace Dooley looks on. (Brad Rich screenshot)

EMERALD ISLE — Emerald Isle commissioners Tuesday night honored longtime fire department Cap. Bruce Norman, who has retired after 31 years of service.

The ceremony, at the start of the commission’s meeting in the boardroom off Highway 58 and virtually on GoToWebinar, included a presentation to Mr. Norman of the state’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

“We want to thank you for your time and hard work,” Mayor Eddie Barber said to Mr. Norman. “I’m crying here. It’s my pleasure to present this to you on behalf of Gov. Roy Cooper.”

The board also adopted a resolution to honor the former captain. It stated Mr. Norman, in his position, “rendered dedicated service to the Town of Emerald Isle and has made significant accomplishments in the areas of beach programs and community engagement” and “has given so much of himself through the years of serving Emerald Isle, but little thought is given to the time swiftly passing by.”

Mr. Norman, whose last day on the job was Tuesday, did not comment during the ceremony, but said Friday he was especially touched, and shocked, by the town nominating him for the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. He said he enjoyed every minute of his career and is still on the “on call” list to respond to fire calls.

“Mark Twain said, ‘Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life,’” he said. “I was fortunate to work with a great team the whole time. It’s been a total team operation.”

In addition to fighting fires, he’s been involved in the town’s ocean rescue efforts since the early 1990s and was the supervisor for some time.

“Somewhere, there’s a picture of me with the town’s first rescue surfboard,” he said. “It’s come so far. It is leaps and bounds from where it was, and that’s great for our residents and visitors, and it’s getting better and better all the time.”

Mr. Norman said he leaves a fire department full of capable and dedicated professionals who do a great job for the town under often tough circumstances.

“You’re always careful out there,” he said. “You’re always worried about the people (whose properties and lives you are trying to save) and about your team.”

In other business during the meeting:

  • Planning director Josh Edmondson recommended the town sign a contract with N-Focus, a Kannapolis-based planning and consulting firm, to update the town’s unified development ordinance. Commissioner Floyd Messer made the motion to approve the $55,500 contract and it passed by a 5-0 vote.
  • The board voted 5-0 to apply for a state grant to dredge the Kelly Lane boat ramp channel. It’s a roughly 3,000-foot-long, east-west trending waterway paralleling the Emerald Isle sound front to the south and an uninhabited, natural island to the north.

The ramp is designated as a state Coastal Area Management Act waterfront access point and is essentially an extension of the paved portion of Kelly Lane north of where the road passes Bogue Sound Drive, terminating at the channel ramp.

According to information in the agenda packet, the ramp provides boaters immediate access to Bogue Sound toward the east or west ends of the channel, and connects to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway 8,000 feet to the north.

The town will apply for dredge work with an $82,125 total project cost, with two-thirds coming from the state Shallow Draft Navigation Channel and Aquatic Weed Fund and a $27,375 town contribution.


CORRECTION: This article was updated at 10:38 a.m. Tuesday, July 20, 2021, to correct the spelling of planning director Josh Edmondson's name. 


Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

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