Commission set to steer battleship

by Cole Dittmer and Sam Wilson
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The 35,000-ton warship across the Cape Fear River from Wilmington has some new faces on the commission that oversees its continued operation as a floating museum.

On Feb. 3, Governor Pat McCrory appointed 14 members to the U.S.S. North Carolina Battleship Commission, including four reappointments. Nine of the appointees are New Hanover County residents.

Formed by state law in 1960, the commission is tasked with adopting rules and regulations for the maintenance and operation of the ship, and battleship spokesperson Heather Loftin said it would have its hands full.

“Usually the meetings are discussions of the budget requirements,” Loftin said in a Feb. 18 interview. “The biggest, of course, is discussion of [financing] the hull repair of the ship … and it’s actually been 15 years in the works that we’ve been trying to get overnight camping approved.”

The commission will bring together supporters of various ages and backgrounds, ranging from retired U.S. Navy Captain and World War II historian Wilbur Jones to Atlantic Marine business manager Jordan Davis. 

Serving as the vice chairman of the commission, Wilbur Jones said he was looking forward to working with such a diverse group. 

“As vice chairman I am going to do everything I can to work with the commissioners, the battleship staff and with officials in Raleigh and Washington, D.C.,” Jones said.

One of the appointees, Deirdre McGlone-Webb, is the manager of the Monkey Junction branch of SunTrust Bank. Originally appointed in 2000, she serves as the commission’s treasurer, and is working on a $17 million statewide fundraising campaign for the battleship.

“Right now, the most important thing is we have the Generations Campaign, for the state, not just the city of Wilmington,” McGlone-Webb said during a Feb. 18 interview.

She pointed out a popular perception is that the battleship is a state agency, but while the state provides some financial support, it is mostly a self-sufficient entity that pays for staff and upkeep through ticket sales and donations.

“We are just blessed to have that history still here in our state for our use to still actually physically touch and walk through history, not just reading about it, which is a wonderful, phenomenal thing,” she said.

Commissioner Jordan Davis said he remembers walking through the battleship as a little boy and holds onto that sense of wonder he felt then. 

“I am very honored to have been chosen to serve on the commission and when I went to the first meeting I certainly felt like I was the young one there,” Davis said. “I just hope that I can bring some youth and energy to it and help them get things done.”

The remainder of appointed members live in Fayetteville or the Triangle area. The one exception is former North Carolina Senator George Marion, who now lives in Sevierville, Tenn., a press release from the governor’s office states.



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