Fire Districts

There are two people who you need to get in touch with about your fire district rating…one is your insurance agent and the other is your local fire station.
You can search for your FPC (Fire Protection Class) on the Declaration Page of your homeowner’s insurance policy…good luck….

OR…get in touch with your EMS dept. for the most up-to-date ratings….

Your county’s Emergency Services (Fire) department will know the ratings of their fire districts…here are the county contacts:

New Hanover
230 Government Center Drive, Suite 130
Wilmington, NC 28403
PHONE: 910-798-7420
FAX: 910-798-7052

Website: (you can search for your district on their website)

Building C
3325 Old Ocean Highway
Bolivia, NC  28422

Phone: 910.253.5383
605 E. Fremont Street
Burgaw, NC  28425
(910) 259-1210

Eddie King, Director:
Charles Newman, Fire Marshal / Assistant Director:
Tommy Batson, Deputy Fire Marshal:


608 North Thompson Street
Whiteville, NC  28472

Jeremy Jernigan, Director:
(910) 640 6610 voice

Kay Worley, Deputy Director:
(910) 640 6610 voice

Department Head—Mitchell Byrd
(910) 862-6760



I was hoping to give more county-specific information in this story…with more maps to show how much variation in the districts there are…but only New Hanover and Brunswick responded to my calls, questions and interview requests….(so high-five to those guys!)

Once you get your district’s rating from your fire station…find out when they were last  evaluated by the State Dept. of Insurance. Every district is on a 5 year evaluation plan…HOWEVER…districts can make a request to the state to be re-evaluated sooner. If they have recently put in a fire hydrant somewhere or if they have added a truck, etc….its likely that they will make that request…and so it’s likely your district’s rating will change sooner then scheduled.

Here is a list of what the *scheduled* re-evaluation periods are …(According to the NC Dept. of Insurance)…

I have a very nicely organized Exel document of this…it will not post in a blog so bear with me on the format ( I can email you the doc. if you’d like)

Take note:
1.    Ratings under a “6” I’m told will not change your fire protection cost….its when you move from a 9 to a 6 or 10 to a 7 for example that you will feel the impact. However, if you own commercial property…ratings under a “6” DO make a difference on your insurance costs.
2.    Districts are defined as 5 mile ROAD territory around a station (not a perfect circle).
3.    If you have a grade of 6/9S…that means that homeowners within 1000 ft of a hydrant get a class 6, but the ones > 1000ft and STILL within 6 miles from the fire station are a “9S.”
4.    If the grade is a 6/9E then homes within 1000ft of a hydrant are a class “6”…homes that are more than 5 or 6 miles are a “9E.”

Department    Re-Inspection     District Served    Rating
Ammon Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.    3/25/2013    Ammon    9E
Bay Tree Lakes V.F.D.    3/25/2013    Bay Tree Lake    9E
Bladenboro Fire Department, Inc.    3/25/2013    Bladenboro, Bladenboro Rural    7, 7/9S
Carvers Creek V.F.D., Inc.    3/25/2013    Carvers Creek    9E
Clarkton Fire Department    3/25/2013    Clarkton, Clarkton Rural    6, 6/9E
Dublin Fire Department    3/25/2013    Dublin    6
East Arcadia Fire Department, Inc.    3/25/2013    East Arcadia    9E
Elizabethtown Fire Department    3/25/2013    Elizabethtown, Elizabethtown Rural    5, 6/9E
Hickory Grove V.F.D., Inc.    3/25/2013    Hickory Grove    9E
Kelly V.F.D., Inc    3/25/2013    Kelly    9E
Lisbon V.F.D., Inc.    3/25/2013    Lisbon    9E
Tar Heel Rural V.F.D., Inc.    3/25/2013    Tar Heel    7/9E
Tobermory V.F.D., Inc.    3/25/2013    Tobermory    9E
White Lake Fire Dept.    3/25/2013    White Lake, White Lake Rural    6, 7/9E
White Oak Fire Dept.    3/25/2013    White Oak    9E

Department    Re-Inspection     District Served    Rating
Bald Head Island Fire Dept.    7/21/2011    Bald Head Island    6
Boiling Springs Lake V.R.D.    7/25/2011    Boiling Springs Lake    4/9E
Bolivia V.F.D., Inc.    6/23/2013    Bolivia    7/9E
Calabash Fire Dept., Inc.    3/19/2014    Calabash, Calabash Rural, Carolina Shores    4, 5/9E, 4
Civietown V.F.D., Inc.    10/8/2013    Civie Town    6/9E
Grissettown-Longwood Fire & Rescue, Inc.    7/20/2011    Grissettown Longwood    5/9E
Leland Volunteer Fire/Rescue Dept., Inc.    1/27/2014    Belville, Leland, Leland Rural    6, 6/10, 6/9E
N.W. Volunteer Fire/Rescue Dept., Inc.    7/25/2011    Northwest    9E
Navassa V.F.D.    7/24/2011    Navassa      9/10
Oak Island Fire and Rescue Dept.    7/18/2011    Oak Island    5
Ocean Isle Fire Dept.    12/8/2013    Ocean Isle Beach & Rural    4, 4/9E
Shallotte Fire Dept.    7/20/2011    Shallotte, Shallotte Rural    4, 4/9E
Shallotte Point V.F.D., Inc.    7/20/2011    Shallotte Point    6/9E
Southport Fire Dept.    7/18/2011    Southport, Southport Rural    4, 4/9E
St. James Fire Dept., Inc.    7/27/2011    Saint James, Saint James Rural    5, 5/9E
Sunset Beach Fire Dept.    7/19/2011    Sunset Beach, Sunset Beach Rural    5, 5/9E
Sunset Harbor & Zion Hill V.F.D., Inc.    7/26/2011    Sunset Harbor Zion Hill    5/9E
Supply Volunteer Fire Dept., Inc.    7/26/2006    Supply    9E
Tri-Beach V.F.D., Inc.    8/1/2013    Holden Beach    5
Waccamaw V.F.D. and Rescue Inc.    7/27/2011    Waccamaw    9E
Winnabow V.F.D., Inc.    7/24/2011    Winnabow    9E
Yaupon Beach V.F.D., Inc.    7/18/2006    Cawell Beach, Yaupon Beach Rural    5, 5/9E

Department    Re-Inspection     District Served    Rating
Acme-Delco Riegelwood Fire & Rescue    8/30/2010    Acme Delco, Riegelwood    6,4
Bolton Volunteer Fire/Rescue Dept., Inc.    11/8/2010    Bolton    9E
Brunswick V.F.D., Inc.    12/6/2010    Brunswick    7/9E
Buckhead V.F.D., Inc & Rescue Squad    11/8/2010    Buckhead    9E
Cerro-Gordo V.F.D. & Rescue    11/16/2010    Cerro-Gordo    9E
Evergreen V.F.D.    11/15/2010    Evergreen    9E
Fair Bluff Fire Dept. & Rescue Squad    11/15/2010    Coles, Fair Bluff    9E/5
Hallsboro V.F.D., Inc.    11/15/2010    Hallsboro    9E
Klondyke-Chadbourn Volunteer Fire Dept.    5/7/2014    Chadbourn, Klondyke    6, 6/9E
Lake Waccamaw Fire Dept.    11/9/2010    E. Columbus, Lake Waccamaw    6/9E, 6
Nakina Fire & Rescue Squad, Inc.    11/18/2011    Nakina    9E
North Whiteville V.F.D.    11/16/2010    North Whiteville    9E
Old Dock/Cypress Creek V.F.D & Auxiliary    11/9/2010    Old Dock/Cypress  Creek    9E
Roseland V.F.D.    12/6/2010    Roseland    9E
St. James V.F.D., Inc    11/8/2010    St.James    9E
Tabor City Fire Dept.    12/7/2010    Tabor City, Yam City    5,5/9E
White Marsh-Welches Creek Community V.F.D.    11/10/2010    Welches Creek    9E
Whiteville Fire Dept.    11/17/2010    Whiteville    4
Williams Township Commuity Fire Dept.    12/7/2010    Williams Township    9E

New Hanover
Department    Re-Inspection     District Served    Rating
Carolina Beach Fire Dept.    1/29/2013    Carolina Beach    5
Castle Hayne V.F.D., Inc    1/29/2013    Castle Hayne    6/9E
Federal Point Fire-Rescue, Inc.    1/29/2013    Federal Point    5/9S
Kure Beach V.F.D.    10/17/2013    Kure Beach    5
Myrtle Grove V.F.D., Inc.    1/29/2013    Myrtle Grove    5/9S
New Hanover County Fire Dept.    1/29/2013    Highway 421 North    5/9S
Ogden V.F.D., Inc.    1/29/2013    Ogden    5/9E
Wilmington Fire Dept.    1/29/2013    Wilmington    2
Wrightsboro V.F.D., Inc.    1/29/2013    Wrightsboro    6/9E
Wrightsville Beach Fire Dept.    1/29/2013    Wrightsville Beach    4

Department    Re-Inspection     District Served    Rating
Atkinson Fire Dept.    4/18/2013    Atkinson    9E
Burgaw Fire Dept.    11/17/2013    Burgaw, Pender Central    5/9S, 5/9E
Hampstead V.F.D., Inc.    4/18/2013    Hampstead    7/9E
Long Creek-Grady V.F.D., Inc.    4/19/2013    Long Creek-Grady    9E
Maple Hill V.F.D., Inc.    4/18/2013    Maple Hill    9E
Penderlea Fire Dept.    4/18/2013    Penderlea    9E
Rocky Point V.F.D., Inc.    4/18/2013    Rocky Point    9E
Shiloh-Columbia V.F.D., Inc.    4/18/2013    Shiloh-Columbia    9E
Sloop Point V.F.D., Inc.    4/18/2013    Sloop Point    9E
Surf City Fire Dept.    4/15/2008    Surf City    6
Topsail Beach Fire Dept.    4/18/2013    Topsail Beach    5

According to the Dept. of Insurance…insurance agents are automatically notified through ISO ( about ratings changes that will affect their client’s policies. Theoretically, when their customers renew…they automatically qualify for the reduced rates. When I first heard that homeowners automatically qualify I though…not much of a story here…


After speaking with a handful of local homeowners who had no clue what I was talking about… who are living in areas that had a class change but weren’t notified…it seemed like a good topic to get the word out on.

Then, when a homeowner’s insurance agent told me they were concerned that people would be calling up asking for years worth of rebates…I figured this was DEFINETELY something to discuss…its YOUR money and if the rate was lowered…I do believe you should be compensated for years of overpaying.

The Dept. of Insurance says it more probable that there was simply a disconnect along the communication line. They say if a Fire Chief does not notify them about an early re-evaluation or paper work gets mixed up, etc. etc….there may be a delay in your agent’s response to lowering your rate.

Robert McIver attests to this…and I know he loves being the money-saving messenger…his face nearly lights up when he talks about saving people’s premiums…and how many people does THAT happen to?!

Robert says he used to receive notices from the fire department when their district ratings had changed…but no longer does.

WHOMEVER is responsible…this is something that YOU can stay on top of…its YOUR cash after all.

The Dept. of Ins. told me that if you were not notified of a ratings change when you renewed, you ARE entitled to your money back on those lower premiums. If you are having trouble with your agent/provider….they say you should file a complaint with their department….call 1-800-546-5664.

A little more about the specific ratings….

The best rating you can get…a “1”…those are few and far between. In fact, I believe there is only one of them in NC (not in our area). So the city of Wilmington takes top honors coming in at a “2.” Robert McIver says they should be very proud of that because they are so hard to get.

On the other hand, there are rural areas, like in Brunswick County, that come in at a 9 or a 10. Does this mean that if you live in those areas no one is coming to help you if your house is on fire?


Scott Garner (B.C. Fire Marshall) says that when a call comes in from those areas…the surrounding districts are alerted and aid goes out from the nearest station. And STAY TUNED Brunswick County because Scott says that there are some significant changes coming in the near future to a handful of your districts.

Getting a top rating is something that’s a continuous goal for ALL of these districts.  Funding plays a big part in how successful they may be…and in this economy…money isn’t at ANYONE’S disposal. Figure that each of those trucks costs $800,000 or so…if that’s the difference in your station moving up in a ratings class…even if a station’s team are world class fire squashers…. without ample coins in the coffer…that truck will have to wait and so may the higher rating.

The fire officials I spoke to said that they are constantly working on the upgrades….and lucky us….its all to our benefit.

A few final words about our fire departments….

I’ve been working on this story for over one month. Previously….I knew very (VERY) little about fire departments except the obvious. I had no idea just how MUCH they do. If there is a car crash, a house fire, a medical emergency…they are always there because they’re first responders. Calls big and small…they are on it.

They go through countless of hours of training every year in order to respond to any type of situation. If they are not AT the fire…they are probably out somewhere training for one…

And they have a very deep sense of pride in what they do and a strong commitment to one another…and that’s very rare to encounter anymore.

So I hope that I’ve somehow made you more aware of where your  insurance $$ goes and how you might be able to save some.
I also hope that you will connect with your local fire station to learn about your rating and any future changes.

And I really hope that you will stop by that station soon…a handshake and a thank you for all the hard work…that really DOES pay off for all of us.


“People Are Scumbags”…and Double Shots, Double Charges…

RE: Wilmington Apartment Employee Loses Job

Wow! Pages and pages of feedback from viewers on this story…you can see them on the bottom of the above link.

I think in the future…there will be many more stories like this. “Privacy” and the “Internet” are two words that probably DON’T belong in the same sentence. That may not always be true…those who are Internet savvy know how to utilize privacy tools to keep what they write and post out of the ‘public’s eye.’ The employee at Market North…who claims ownership over the “People Are Scumbags” quote…must not have been aware?

She must not have…because she also put her cell phone number and address on a wedding registry page which is how reporter Claire Simms got in touch with her. Claire said that she seemed surprised that we were able to reach her. In fact, this woman’s fiance told Claire, that they try to keep their cell numbers just between their family and friends. FYI…posting that information on the web makes you ‘family and friends’ with millions and millions of people….

Just for fun (and as a safety measure)…go to Google and type in your name with “quotation marks” around it. You can scan through any information about yourself that has ended up online. You will either be relieved…or terrified after this exercise.

When Claire originally contacted the employee…she would not go on camera. EVERYONE…we know that an on camera interview is intimidating…but we can’t tell your side of the story FOR YOU and it often does NOT look complimentary to go M.I.A.

After the story aired…she decided to get in touch…here is what she said…and to cover my own behind…the last sentence in her letter reads: “Feel free to quote what you wish.” (and so I am…) 

The intro decries our broadcast and she begins to explain some of her comments….

“During property inspections we walk into some very nasty units…picture walking into a unit with roaches and opening a closet door and having one fall on your head….opening a door handle and having some unknown substance come off on your hand….dealing with mildew up to the ceiling….walking into a unit that smells like such body soil that it’s hard to breathe normally without feeling the urge to vomit.  All of this is a result of poor housekeeping.  All of the residents at Market North apartments are not poor housekeepers, but the small number of them that are, make property inspections entirely disgusting to have to take part in.  I will apologize for the generalization as not all of the residents are dirty or scummy.  I will not apologize for being grossed out and posting something on a page that at the time, I had no idea that anyone other than my personal friends and family could look at.  As for it being during company time, I am allowed 1 lunch break and two 15 minute breaks a day.  So for me to check personal accounts did not seem to be a horrible violation to me.  Have you never done anything personal on your work computer?” She then goes on to say that we did not get the full story…and that Rebecca Rivenbark had an axe to grind…

“…We are not friends, she had no reason to look at my page.  She was in the process of being evicted by the property manager for misconduct.  She has, on numerous occasions entered the office and yelled and screamed at office staff….On one occasion she became irate and was screaming obscenities and was told to vacate the office.  She did so and came back and began kicking and banging on the office door (then locked for safety reasons) and began calling office staff “Coward A$$e$,” and my personal favorite “Drug Addict W*****.”   


“…I do no deny that I should have made sure my page was secure and unable to be looked at by those who were not intended to see such posts.  I do think that it is a sad state of affairs that you felt it was necessary to broadcast this and ultimately cost me my livlihood.  And why? Probably because it mentioned Facebook and Facebook is great news!!!!  And a week before my wedding at that!!!  The happiest day of my life has now been overshadowed by uncertainty and fear.”


She then goes on to say that she will never watch us again, etc. etc.


I found this story on MSNBC….”Starbucks double-charges a million customers”

If you think you are being over charged at Starbucks ANYWAY…this should peak your interest….


Starbucks “accidentally charged as many as one million customers TWICE for their purchases” over Memorial Day weekend. The company acknowledged the error and says they are working to reimburse “all impacted customers.”

If you used a debit or credit card on Friday, May 22, and part of Saturday, May 23…check your bank statement…about 1 million of you will see an error. (WHAT?! Latte = $10.50??!!!) Don’t check your receipt though! The receipt showed the correct amount…charges went into double duty when accounts were settled at the end of the day.

Customers should have seen a credit applied to their accounts by May 29…but Starbucks says they’ve had some customers call whose accounts were not fixed.


Worst Offenders: Local Businesses

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) sends monthly lists to me of the local companies who are rated to lowest in that month. Many receive an “F” when they stop responding to customer concerns and complaints.

Here is April’s list…yeah…there is some lag in the time it takes to generate it…

Businesses with Unanswered Complaints

A & H Air Conditioning ~   Myrtle Beach   SC Rating:  F
A&E Appraisals ~   Myrtle Beach   SC Rating:  F
A1 Skateboards ~   Wilmington   NC Rating:  F
AAA Automark Car Care Center ~   Wilmington   NC Rating:  F
Aamco Transmissions ~   Florence   SC Rating:  F
American Handi Craft ~   Fayetteville   NC Rating:  F
Atomic Host ~   Myrtle Beach   SC Rating:  NR
B. Mitchell Photography ~   Myrtle Beach   SC Rating:  F
Beach Computer ~   Myrtle Beach   SC Rating:  F
Bedford Fair Apparel ~   Wilmington   NC Rating:  F
Big Pines TV ~   Myrtle Beach   SC Rating:  F
Blackcat Bail Bonds ~   Florence   SC Rating:  F
Boswell Capital Group ~   Wilmington   NC Rating:  F
Captains Quarters ~   Myrtle Beach   SC Rating:  F
Coast-2-Coast Computers ~   Little River   SC Rating:  F
Computer Trauma Center ~   Fayetteville   NC Rating:  F
Discovery Vacations ~   Little River   SC Rating:  NA
Doctor Hot Tub, Inc. ~   Wilmington   NC Rating:  F
Dorothy’s Classics ~   Wilmington   NC Rating:  F
Eastern Carolina Emergency Physicians ~   Pawleys Island   SC Rating:  F
Elite Escapes International ~   Myrtle Beach   SC Rating:  F
Excel Charters and Tours ~   Dillon   SC Rating:  F
Final Touch Landscaping ~   Little River   SC Rating:  F
Frink, Foy & Yount Attorneys at Law ~   Shallotte   NC Rating:  F
Glam o Rama ~   Fayetteville   NC Rating:  F
Hinton Smith Real Estate ~   Fayetteville   NC Rating:  F
Home Improvement Company of Fayetteville ~   Eastover   NC Rating:  F
HostOnce, LLC ~   Lumberton   NC Rating:  F
Jackson’s ~   Whiteville   NC Rating:  F
Jones Roofing ~   Fayetteville   NC Rating:  F
Knuckles Heating & HVAC ~   Darlington   SC Rating:  F
MIDAS AUTO SERVICE EXPERTS ~   Fayetteville   NC Rating:  F
Mudpie Photoworks ~   Myrtle Beach   SC Rating:  F
Myrtle Beach Direct Air & Tours ~   Myrtle Beach   SC Rating:  F
Nicholas Associates, LLC ~   Myrtle Beach   SC Rating:  F
Oceania Family Resorts ~   Myrtle Beach   SC Rating:  F
Palmetto Professional Counseling, Education, & Med ~   Loris   SC Rating:  F
Pine Valley Mortgage ~   Fayetteville   NC Rating:  F
R&P Electronics ~   Fayetteville   NC Rating:  F
R.C.S. Credit Assistance ~   Wilmington   NC Rating:  F
Rain Soft of Myrtle Beach ~   Conway   SC Rating:  NR
Refinshed by Herb ~   Georgetown   SC Rating:  F
Reger Construction ~   Myrtle Beach   SC Rating:  F
Sun Auto Center ~   Wilmington   NC Rating:  NR
Tamarack On The Lake ~   Fayetteville   NC Rating:  F
Time Warner Cable ~   Spring Lake   NC Rating:  NA
Tint Pros ~   Spring Lake   NC Rating:  F ~   Wilmington   NC Rating:  F
Townsend Roofing & Vinyl Siding ~   Fayetteville   NC Rating:  F
Windows/Siding ~   Wilmington   NC Rating:  NR


If there is a business that you’d like to inquire about…or if you are one of these business owners who would like to…START answering consumer complaints…get in touch with the BBB:


Phone: (843) 488-2227



I called Connie Bass this morning…the consultant hired by NC DSS to inspect the day cares out in the Duplin County area…she had just left for work I was told. I’ll keep trying….

I’m going to call the state department now and see what kind of history Wilson Family Day Care had…

As for the rest of the crew….Gavin is off to check in on the City’s plans to revise their travel schedule…Lynda is following up with New Hanover schools about the teacher incident, she’ll also be checking in with local firefighters…we hear that they are working together to help out the fireman whose house was badly burned…and Laura is scoping out the swine flu situation…

Saudia Arabia Says $200 Oil In 2 Years…(palm goes to forehead)

From Reuters

OPEC Saudi Arabia was warning that oil prices could spike beyond the $150 record high we saw in 2008 due to the “blow to investment in expanding capacity”…the culprit…the financial crisis. (Note: “financial crisis” seems to be the culprit to every giant money-making entity on the planet whose looking for funds…).

Oil prices are at a 6-month high of $60/barrel…anyone else getting peeved at seeing +$2.30/gallon?!  Yesterday “energy ministers” (sounds scary) met in Rome to discuss their dismay. They say producers need $75/barrel to get investment going again.

Remember last summer when we were all being warned to cut back on our consumption…ease demand to improve prices? Well…we did…but I guess too much to keep OPEC happy? Can we really ever win at this?!

The International Energy Agency predicts investment in oil and gas exploration and production will fall 21 percent in 2009. Paolo Scaroni, CEO of Italy’s Eni said one solution might be to create a global oil agency representing producers and consumers that would combat price volatility and ensure investments keep flowing into the energy sector. Hmmm…another big “regulatory” agency….

Again….palm goes to forehead….But talking about oil…is often a colorful talk…here are some of my favorite comments from that article..

Henry Blodget said: Just shows how preposterous our current energy “policy” is….scrimping and saving waiting for oil to go to 75…Then all the new exploration fuels fears of over-supply and it drops back to 50 and then stop new production because it’s no longer viable…We need to put incentives in place that make new production investment feasible at much lower levels. And we need a gas tax, so the economic rationale for consumers will stay stable as well. If oil goes to 200 it will kill the global economy again. Then we’ll be back in this stupid sputtering loop.

Jay said: … the true rulers of the universe. People won’t give a shit after we just boycott it all together.

Frank Saffold said: When will the US Energy Department pull its head our of the sand and seriously assess the recent projections by several eminently-qualified world-class petroleum geologists that world crude oil production is peaking if it has not already done so?

Kenneth said: It sounds like a threat from a group of idiots. You either toe the line or else.

Eric said: Does no one realize that the spike in oil last year partially contributed to the financial crisis we’re experiencing? When prices went up it depressed demand for goods via a trickle down effect, affecting the whole economy.

Deano said: More scare tactics from the boys in S.A. They are doing what they can to talk the price up because they know the end of big oil’s reign is coming soon. They should have thought of that before allowing oil to hit $140/barrel last summer, resulting in the “waking” of the sleeping giant (the U.S). Now hybrids and other fuel efficient vehicles abound and the demand for fuel is heading south fast.

lala said:…we are awash in oil – currently. Global oil consumption is forecast to fall the fastest in 28 years (IEA stat). There are literally boatloads of the brown stuff floating around. ..The biggest Saudi oilfield and the biggest Mexican oilfield are have both been experiencing major declines in the last 3 years. We may not be at Peak Oil but we have passed the peak for “Cheap Peak Oil”. Last year at this time we were looking @ $100 boe/d on its way to $140 boe/d crude prices. The U.S was screaming for more energy infastructure (from refining capacity to more actual oil). Fast forward a year and as a country the U.S has decided to spend (waste) billions on failing industry (see GM and Chrysler). While failing to add anything other, than a push for green technology, in energy infastructure. Whether it takes 1 year or 4 years, oil will again be over $100. You can count on it . The issue is whether the U.S government chooses to do anything to mitigate this or continues to just push “green solutions”?

There were many more beyond that…but I’m running out of space…

Post YOUR comments below…Do you think OPEC is really in such a bind? How do YOU feel when you fill up now that we are creeping back up to $3/gallon??

Dirty, Dirty Diaper….company

Just got an email from Kathy Graham…chief Better Business Bureau guru…she sends a warning of a company that they’re getting a lot of complaints on.

Just wanted to give you a “heads up” on a company we have received a TON of complaints on – and so far they aren’t responding to us…..

 They promise a personalized diaper service of your favorite brands. You visit the web site each month and place your order for what brand and size you want in the shipment.Kathy says that complaints started 4/27/09. She says that people are saying they had great service until about April. 



Here’s their address:

PO Box 12574, Wilmington, NC 28405-0130

Phone: 910 399-1368 (I just called…no answer…no surprise)

 Kathy says they’re getting no where with this issue.

Get in touch…let me know if you’ve been affected.

SAT Prep:Worthless

First…a few updates on the day so far…

Received an email from Lucy Crockett at the WPD. Wilmington has reached late May without a murder. That might be a morbid thing to send in an email, but its pretty great news for a city. Lucy says it’s a credit to the new programs they’ve started. I know *I’m* happy to hear it…despite what some people may think…reporters don’t actually enjoy covering gruesome crime scenes. Good news for Wilmington!

Laura Sinacori is out prowling our college campuses today. No…she’s not looking for a date…she’s scoping out the new Sea Hawks statue at UNCW…then to a luncheon at CFCC. Apparently UNCW is applying to the Guinness Book of World Records for the title of Largest Sea Hawk Statue. I wonder how many contenders there are in THAT category….

The picture she sent looks pretty cool.

I’m writing the next piece of “Getting In” about the 4 Laney High Seniors I’ve been following all year as they charge through the college admissions process. The results are in…

While I’m thinking about college…here is an interesting new study that says that SAT Coaching…(brace yourselves…)…may NOT work…(world gasps).

Parents spend oodles of money every year on SAT prep courses in hopes of raising their kiddies score…even if just a smidge…in the effort to breach the ambiguous admissions walls at American universities.

 I know *I* shelled out…a whole **$50** for a course in someone’s basement!

 The National Association for College Admissions Counseling (=11,000 college admissions officers + high school guidance counselors) says prep companies inflate the value of these courses. At best…you might gain 30 points (out of 2,400).

 Here’s my illustration: Lets say you spent $1,100 on a SAT Classroom Prep course with Kaplan (that’s the cost in our area…it goes beyond $3,000 for private sessions) and you buy 2 prep books for $40. (Lets not consider the opportunity cost of time here or expense in travel or other fancy accessories like calculators.) You spend $1,140 for those 30 golden points…that’s $38 PER point.

 The test prep business is a $4 BILLION dollar industry. It sells everything from free online practice tests to personal tutoring that goes upwards of $200 per hour. If you’ve got the dough…you can shell out for the latter…and enjoy whatever benefits that may provide.

 Size and selling power are not what makes companies like The Princeton Review and Kaplan so interesting. Its that these companies can sell a product that has NO specific guarantee of outcome…for a high price…and in high volume.

 If you look at the benefit per point in my example…$38 would be the marginal benefit of each additional point. But at what point do you experience diminishing returns with SAT testing? At what price tag is there no additional benefit to more classes, more studying, more tests, more books, more tutors, more, more, more? No one can ever measure that. Which could be reason why SAT preps are such a great sell despite their lack of outcome.  Both parents and students are hoping that “one more” will hit the jackpot.

And ‘hope’…is expensive.

Swine Flu vs. Seasonal Flu

Swine flu has certainly hit a media fever pitch. ALL over the web. ALL over the network news. ALL over the newspapers.

Who DOESN’T get a sick feeling in their stomach (no pun intended) upon hearing that something that’s killing people in Mexico…is now popping up across the U.S.?

By the very nature of our on-the-go society, it wouldn’t take long for a disease or virus to spread by air…by rail…by car…by ship. Wilmington is extra special because not only are we the *Port* city, but we also have an airport in our backyard.

But should swine flu cause much more terror than seasonal flu? Maybe, maybe not. Here are some interesting tid-bits…

Seasonal flu kills 36,000 people in the U.S. EVERY year.

Since January, 13,000 people have died from seasonal flu.

Swine flu? 1 person in the U.S.

Just something to ponder….


Now….some real news…from the BBB…..Scam Alert.

The real virus in this world – online scammers – are pumping out emails and websites with all sorts of creative subject lines like: “Madonna Has Swine Flu!!”

I hope these will end up in your Junk box. The ones that worry me are those who are hustling “emergency” safety products like the “Swine Flu Survival Guide” for $20 at

Wow…can you believe THAT domain name wasn’t already taken?

Others are selling online vaccines for swine flu. Note: there is no such thing as a vaccine for swine flu. Any and all medical related info to this issue should be directed to the Center for Disease Control:  

The only medicine you need here is an update to your anti-virus software.


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