Feb. 23, 2021
TO THE EDITOR:
So many things are wrong with the county signing on to NC House Bill 51, starting with the secret way it was done with no notice or invitation for comment. But I will focus now on two problems.
First - Public Notices must be public, placed where they can be noticed! It is well known that Carteret is sadly low in the percentage of its residents who have access to the internet.
Legal notices that affect people’s lives, calls for bids on property for sale by the county, etc. will not be seen by anyone who is not on the computer looking for them every day. Construction, repair and maintenance projects and other county openings will not be seen by local small businesses who need the work. So, county officials will say “No bids received” and hand the jobs to someone they already know. "No bids received" on that property; someone will get a bargain.
Second - We need our newspaper! Just the Coastal Living section of last Wed. News-Times has lively news stories and photos of: 1. the drive-by parade honoring Tabbie Nance who has done so much for education here. 2. Carteret Community College honoring top achievers during a Black History Month celebration. 3. Budsin Electric Boats receiving a governor’s award for top rural exporter. 4.The popular Empty Bowls fundraiser against hunger coming up. There are three pages of sports news: winners in basketball, lacrosse and a motorcycle race.
Read about a West Carteret track and field star who was recruited by NC State and earned an appointment to the Air Force Academy. Also a page of public notices, a page of classified ads.
No big deal? Access to information is a Big Deal. Celebrating winners and successes is a big deal to local friends and families. So is promoting non-profits and civic organizations and local businesses.
Newspapers are struggling. The county should be doing what it can to save ours, not competing with it. There should be no thought of dropping public notices from the newspaper anytime in the next two years. Meanwhile, a website can be started and tried. It will take time and many paid hours to iron out the kinks. I have studied the text of the bill (available online) including all the complicated requirements for maintaining a public notices website.
The bill does not require participating counties to put notices online. It only allows it - instead of, or along with, newspapers. We can do both. The money saved by not using the newspaper would be so tiny. Why brag about saving money if it does not mean lower taxes for citizens?
The job of county officials is to carefully use the budget it has to achieve the most improvement in the standard of living for its constituents.