PLYMOUTH — A metal barn may seem an unlikely place to have a strategy meeting when it comes to fighting the Navy.
Just getting people to find it presents a logistical problem, particularly when the best way to describe it is as a big metal thing in a neighborhood marked by fields, grass and two-lane roads. But the route to the Beasley barn is unmistakable. It’s clearly in the heart of the Navy’s preferred landing field “Site C” country, and as soon as a traveler gets near it, signs proclaiming “NO OLF” stand or hang near almost every driveway, yard, dirt path and tall tree in the area.
It’s not as much a wish as it is a testament to how residents in Washington and Beaufort counties intend for things to be. So, even as the tide may be turning away from the Navy’s wished-for site, residents of that land met again Tuesday at the barn of Myra and Jerry Beasley, right on the county line.
“It’s important to show the Navy that the grassroots groups are still holding together and that we’re the ones driving the bus,” said Jennifer Alligood, chairwoman of North Carolinians Opposed to an Outlying Landing Field.
To that end, the group unanimously approved a motion aimed at helping residents of Gates and Camden counties. Those two northeastern counties have between them four of the newest potential OLF sites that the Navy is considering as alternatives to Site C.
“Our brothers and sisters in neighboring communities are on the chopping block,” said Jerry Beasley. “We want to say that we are against the involuntary taking of anybody’s farmland. That’s the NO OLF farmers and any other one. The loss of a single farm is a loss to all farmers in North Carolina.”
The group also discussed restocking its stickers, signs, brochures and T-shirts, all of which have been used. They need to be replenished before the North Carolina State Fair begins next month because representatives from Ducks Unlimited want to have NO OLF literature to hand out at a booth there, said Doris Morris, NO OLF communications director.
Kathleen Taylor briefed the group on last week’s meeting of Gov. Mike Easley’s OLF study group.
“There seems to be a whole new face of cooperation between (environmental) Secretary Bill Ross and Rear Adm. (David) Anderson,” Taylor said.
But the NO OLF members are skeptical about Anderson, with one man saying the group should “beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”
“We know Adm. Anderson has said he believes the Navy can win in court,” Alligood said. “So, now is not the time for us to rest.”