Editor's note: This article was updated at 4:05 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, to reflect information about board terms.
EMERALD ISLE — Atlantic Beach Mayor Trace Cooper officially announced his pending departure from the Carteret County Beach Commission during the panel’s monthly session Monday in the Emerald Isle Board of Commissioners’ meeting room and via Zoom.
“I plan to retire from this portion of my public service,” Mr. Cooper said.
When the commission elected him chairperson last year, he said it would be his last time. Mr. Cooper said Monday he has been on the panel since 2008, and his appointment expires in January. He has been chairperson since 2014.
Greg Rudolph, manager of the Carteret County Shore Protection Office, which the beach commission advises, said Mayor Cooper is the “elder statesman” of the board and has been “the best.”
The mayor has led the panel and advised Mr. Rudolph’s office on numerous multi-million-dollar beach nourishment and dredging projects, and most recently led the discussion on whether the county should enter into a formal agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to manage, partly finance and implement future beach nourishment projects.
The commission voted unanimously during Monday’s meeting to not enter that agreement, but to stay, for now, with a nourishment finance system that uses money from the county’s beach nourishment fund, state legislature appropriations and occasional money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Mr. Cooper was preceded by Chairperson Buck Fugate, who at the time was mayor of Indian Beach. The beach commission elects its own chairperson.
The commission Monday voted unanimously to recommend Carteret County commissioners appoint Danny Navey, an Atlantic Beach Town Council member, to fill Mayor Cooper’s seat.
The term of Larry Corsello, who represents Pine Knoll Shores on the beach panel, also expires in January, but he said he wanted to continue to serve and the commission nominated him for another three-year term, again unanimously.
Joel Fortune, an Indian Beach town commissioner who has represented that town on the beach commission, said he didn’t want to serve another term, and the panel unanimously nominated fellow Indian Beach Commissioner Mike Luther to replace him in January.
A fourth term, reserved for a Carteret County commissioner, also expires in January, and the county commission will pick a person for that seat. Commissioner Jimmy Farrington holds that seat.
The county board also must approve all of the beach commission’s nominees before they can be seated.
The beach commission includes 11 members: two from Atlantic Beach, two from Pine Knoll Shores, two from Emerald Isle, two from Indian Beach, one at-large Bogue Banks representative, one at-large county representative – a member of the county commission – and one member of the Carteret County Tourism Development Authority.
Mr. Rudolph called Mr. Corsello – a member of the beach panel since 2012 – “a very, very productive member” and likewise said Mr. Fortune has been a great commission member.
Mr. Rudolph said he conducted an informal canvass of local governments and groups to provide the names of people the beach commission could consider for nomination.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.