CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If Hurricane Irma moves up the east coast, it’s entirely likely North Carolina’s newly formed Shelly Island will be wiped out, but that isn’t stopping a quick-thinking Virginia businessman from claiming he owns it.

Yes, someone has filed a Quit Claim Deed to the 10-month-old island, despite expert opinions that it’s owned by North Carolina for the time being.

Kenneth M. Barlow, who lives outside of Richmond, filed the claim with the Dare County Register of Deeds on Aug. 7. It cost him just $26, which is cheap for a nearly mile-long island … or sandbar, as some insist. The deed gives him “all right, title, interest and claim” to the island.

“I own this island now. That argument is over,” said Barlow, 59, who is a critic of the National Park Service’s regulation policies on Cape Hatteras National Seashore. “I’ll fight them all the way to the Supreme Court if I have to. The laws are simple. Ownership has been decided. I’m notifying them (the National Park Service) to stay off my property.”

His plan for the island?

“I’m not going to do a thing with it,” Barlow says. “My motivation is to keep it out of hands of the National Park Service and its policies, which have proven to be incompetent.”

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is aware of Barlow’s claim and is not commenting on it. Park Superintendent David Hallac has told the Observer the island belongs to either the state or the National Park Service, depending on whether it stays an island or connects to land.

It’s currently being treated as property of North Carolina, under the jurisdiction of Dare County, he says. If the channel fills in and it connects to Hatteras Island, it will likely be the property of the National Park Service, Hallac says.

—The Charlotte Observer


Hartford can only meet its financial obligations for 60 days, mayor warns lawmakers

HARTFORD, Conn. — The mayor of Connecticut’s capital fired a warning shot at state lawmakers and the governor Thursday, saying Hartford would seek permission to file for bankruptcy if the city didn’t get the state aid it needs by early November.

In a sharply worded letter to House and Senate leaders and to Gov. Dannel Malloy, Mayor Luke Bronin cautioned: “If the state fails to enact a budget and continues to operate under the governor’s current executive order, the city of Hartford will be unable to meet its financial obligations in approximately 60 days.”

The state budget stalemate is a threat to many Connecticut cities, but has posed exceptional problems for Hartford. Projections show the capital city, facing a $65 million deficit this year, will run into cash flow issues in November and December, including a $39.2 million end-of-year shortage.

Malloy is expected to release revised fiscal plans Thursday that could lead to a compromise. Democrats and Republicans have called a meeting in an attempt to reach common ground.

But Bronin warned that the “extraordinary measures” other towns are considering in response to Connecticut’s ongoing budget gridlock — layoffs, cuts to services and pulling from a rainy day fund — are actions Hartford has already taken.

In 2016, the mayor laid off 40 workers and cut millions from city departments. He also used most of Hartford’s rainy day fund to help offset deficits.

Still, Hartford had to borrow millions in June to help pay its bills.

“For the past year, we have highlighted the urgency of Hartford’s fiscal crisis,” he wrote. “The time has come to decide, together, what future we want for our capital city.”

In the letter, Bronin urged legislators to embrace a “farsighted, collaborative approach” that includes giving Hartford more than the minimum amount of state aid it needs. Bronin has asked for at least $40 million more this year.

—The Hartford Courant


Peace needs ‘a distinct kind of moral courage,’ Pope tells Colombians

BOGOTA, Colombia — Pope Francis called Thursday on the Colombian people not to let up in the struggle for cooperation after reaching a peace pact with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The search for peace is always “an open thing,” Pope Francis said at the start of his official program at the Plaza de Armas in the heart of Bogota, the capital, where tens of thousands of people gave him an enthusiastic reception.

Humans, their dignity and respect for the common good should be at the center of all political, social and economic action, the 80-year-old pontiff said.

The Vatican played a decisive role in the negotiations between the government and left-wing FARC guerrillas, which began in 2012 and concluded with the peace agreement reached last year.

Just prior to the pope’s visit, the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group agreed to a cease-fire from Oct. 1 until Jan. 12. The announcement has raised expectations that the ELN will also sign up to a peace agreement soon.

Speaking to Colombia’s bishops Thursday evening at the Cardinal’s Palace, Pope Francis quoted Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, who wrote that it is easier to begin a war than to end one.

“All of us know that peace calls for a distinct kind of moral courage,” Francis said, according to a transcript of his speech provided by Vatican Radio. “War follows the basest instincts of our heart, whereas peace forces us to rise above ourselves.”

Earlier Thursday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos described Colombia as “the country that exchanges arms for words.”

Francis arrived Wednesday Bogota for his long-awaited visit, the third by a pope to the South American country. An estimated 80 percent of Colombians are Roman Catholic.

During his visit, which will last until Monday, the pope is focusing his message on peace and reconciliation as the country works through the peace process.

Several million people are expected to turn out for his stops in the former conflict zone Villavicencio as well as in Medellin and Cartagena. Nearly 35,000 police and soldiers are protecting the pope during his visit.


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