Purdue lends luck of Irish to NO-OLF

Published 7:18 pm Sunday, April 8, 2007

By Staff
By DAN PARSONS, Staff Writer
PLYMOUTH — With a number of North Carolina counties and more than three other states represented at the Navy’s hearing on their proposed outlying landing field in Washington County Wednesday, only one person could claim to represent Ireland.
Paul Purdue was born in Corrick-on-Shanon, Ireland, moved to the United States in 1998, got his green card in 2001 and earned his citizenship on January 21, 2005, facts he reels off with a broad and proud smile.
He learned of North Carolinians Opposed to the Outlying Landing Field not long after taking up residency in North Carolina and took their struggle to heart, he said after the hearing. He drove from his home in Buncombe County to support NO-OLF in its efforts against the Navy’s decision to put their OLF in Washington and Beaufort counties.
The hearing was the sixth in a court-ordered series of seven to gather public comment on the Navy’s latest OLF impact statement. In the document, the Navy asserts that its preferred site for the pilot-practice field is Site C — a 30,000-acre area in Washington and Beaufort counties.
Purdue attended the hearing with a group which calls itself the “Buncombe Radicals.” Don Yelton, another of the group, graduated from Clemson with a degree in environmental engineering, credentials to which he alerted Navy representatives during his three minutes of public comment.
Site C is less than five miles from the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife refuge, a popular wintering spot for tens of thousands of snow geese and tundra swans. Much of the debate over the site has been how Navy jets will effect the birds and the danger posed by bird-jet collisions.