Carolina Journal News Reports
CJ Series

The Currituck Ferry

An expensive "solution" to getting a few dozen kids to school on the Outer Banks has proved to be a complex scandal, complete with malfeasance and a federal criminal investigation.

(5.06.09) Gaskill Again Given No Jail Time
RALEIGH — U.S. District Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle ruled Tuesday, for the second time, that former N. C. Department of Transportation Ferry Division Director Jerry Gaskill will not receive an active prison sentence for his role in the illegal dredging of the Currituck Sound in 2004.


(3.26.09) More Troubles for Former Ferry Chief
RALEIGH — A panel of federal judges ruled on Friday that a North Carolina judge should have imposed a harsher sentence on former N.C. Department of Transportation Ferry Division Director Jerry Gaskill for his role in the illegal dredging of the Currituck Sound in 2004.


(10.16.07) Surplus State Ferry Bombs on eBay
RALEIGH — North Carolina tried to use the Internet auction site eBay to sell the pontoon passenger ferry it bought in 2004 for a route across Currituck Sound, but the auction deadline passed Monday with no acceptable bids for the unused vessel.


(3.21.07) Former Ferry Officials Sentenced
RALEIGH — A U.S. District judge sentenced two former N.C. Ferry Division officials Tuesday to three years of probation for their roles in the illegal dredging of the Currituck Sound in 2004.


(1.23.07) Gaskill Sentencing Continued
RALEIGH — U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle continued a hearing Monday in which a former director of the N.C. DOT Ferry Division was to have been sentenced for making false statements that obstructed an investigation of illegal dredging in the Currituck Sound.


(6.16.06) Federal Jury Finds Gaskill Guilty
RALEIGH — A jury found former Ferry Division Director Jerry Gaskill guilty on Thursday of making a material false statement to a federal agency in connection with an investigation of the illegal dredging, or “prop washing,” of a channel in an essential marine habitat in the Currituck Sound.

Related Currituck Ferry Articles:
'I'm extremely disappointed in the verdict'


(6.15.06) Some Gaskill Charges Dismissed
RALEIGH — U. S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle created some excitement among the more than 25 friends and witnesses that had come to show their support for former Ferry Division Director Jerry Gaskill yesterday when he dropped two of the four charges Gaskill was facing in federal court.


(6.14.06) Official Admits to False Statement
RALEIGH — Former North Carolina Department of Transportation business officer Charles Utz admitted in federal court yesterday that he prepared a letter claiming the dredging in the Currituck Sound was accidental even though he had already determined it was deliberate.


(6.13.06) Ferry Director Claims Innocence
RALEIGH — Former North Carolina Department of Transportation Ferry Division Director Jerry Gaskill, whose trial for illegal activities associated with the state’s efforts to establish a passenger ferry service across the shallow Currituck Sound began yesterday, claimed that his subordinates conducted the illegal activities without his knowledge.

Related Currituck Ferry Articles:
Gaskill expected to testify in trial


(5.02.06) Jurors Selected for Ferry Trial
RALEIGH — Twelve jurors and two alternates were selected yesterday for the trial of former N. C. Department of Transportation Ferry Division Director Jerry Gaskill. A federal grand jury indicted Gaskill, 63, of Cedar Island on Jan. 18 for illegal activities associated with the state’s efforts to establish a passenger ferry service across the Currituck Sound.


(2.20.06) Party Time for Former Ferry Director
RALEIGH — Friends of former Ferry Division Director Jerry Gaskill, 63, of Cedar Island, are throwing a retirement party for him even though his abrupt departure from state government was apparently not by choice.


(2.01.06) Ferry Director Appears in Court
RALEIGH — North Carolina Department of Transportation Ferry Division Director Jerry Gaskill, who was indicted by a federal grand jury on Jan. 18 for illegal activities associated with the state’s efforts to establish a passenger ferry service across Currituck Sound, made his initial appearance Tuesday in federal court in Raleigh.

Deceased Employee's Memo Speculated About Dredging

The late Danny Noe, who was found dead on April 15, 2005, wrote a memo detailing what he knew or had heard about the illegal dredging scheme.


(1.19.06) Ferry Division Director Indicted
RALEIGH — A federal grand jury in Raleigh indicted N.C. Department of Transportation Ferry Division Director Jerry Gaskill, 63, of Cedar Island yesterday for illegal activities associated with the state’s efforts to establish a passenger ferry service across the Currituck Sound.

Previous stories on the Currituck Ferry


(12.16.05) Guilty Plea Heard in Ferry Case
RALEIGH — A superintendent with the N.C. Ferry Division pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court to federal charges that he ordered workers aboard a division workboat to illegally cut a channel in Currituck Sound near Corolla.


(11.23.05) Two Plead Guilty in Ferry Dredging
RALEIGH — Two employees of the N. C. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division pleaded guilty on Monday in federal court in Elizabeth City to knowingly excavating an area of the Currituck Sound without authorization, a violation of federal environmental laws. The employees, Douglas Alan Bateman and Herbert F. O’Neal were part of a crew that in May 2004 used Ferry Division workboats to cut, or “kick,” a channel in the shallow Currituck Sound near Corolla.


(11.04.05) Meanwhile, In a Different Scandal. . .
The political buzz this week may have been all about the Black-Norris-Geddings affair, but there’s been another development in the ferryboat-to-nowhere story in the senate leader’s corner of the state.


(8.24.05) Suspicion Arises After Death
RALEIGH — Many of the questions arising from the state Ferry Division’s controversial purchase of a new boat for ferry service in Currituck County cannot be answered because a key state employee who was involved in the transaction — and who was a witness in a federal investigation — was found dead.
N.C. Department of Transportation Ferry Division employee Danny Noe, 59,(photo at right) was found dead April 15, 2005. His hands were tied behind his back and a plastic bag was tied over his head.


(8.23.05) Ferry Size Required Illegal Dredging
RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Transportation’s project to establish passenger-ferry service across the Currituck Sound is a long way from hauling the schoolchildren it ostensibly was designed for. With Sen. Marc Basnight of Dare County as the driving force, the N.C. General Assembly appropriated $834,000 in June 2003 for the project. But evidence shows that the legislature approved the project without ordering a thorough analysis. Meanwhile, problems continue to multiply.


(8.22.05) Problems Mount for Ferry Project
RALEIGH — Poor planning, denial of environmental permits, and subtle business and tourism interests have crippled a N.C. Department of Transportation project to establish passenger ferry service across the Currituck Sound. Plans for the project were initiated soon after the Currituck County Board of Commissioners asked Sen. Marc Basnight in July 2002 to help establish a ferry service to transport about 40 schoolchildren from the Outer Banks to the mainland. Students had been attending Dare County schools.


(6.01.05) Basnight Seeks Coast's Longest Pier
RALEIGH — A deal brokered by Sen. Marc Basnight to get the Currituck-to-Corolla passenger ferry up and running would result in the construction of an 1,800-foot docking pier extending into the Currituck Sound, which, if approved by the federal government, would be the longest pier on the East Coast. The pier proposal, the result of a recent meeting between Basnight and several state and local officials, would be twice as long as the 900-foot Apache Pier near Myrtle Beach. However, several federal agencies would have to approve the project before it could be built.


(4.28.05) Ferry Boat Failed Specifications
RALEIGH — A boat purchased by the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division for a new ferry route across the shallow Currituck Sound does not meet the requirement that it be able to operate in 18 inches of water. The Division of Marine Fisheries inspected the boat and determined that it might require more than 42 inches of water to operate. While the boat was delivered to the state shipyard in Manns Harbor in August, the operating limitations of the vessel became public only recently. Ferry Division Administrative Officer Charles Utz told Carolina Journal, “The operating depth of the boat is 31 inches.”


(2.23.05) Wildlife Resources Partner in Ferry
RALEIGH — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission was a partner in an Outer Banks passenger ferry project that is behind schedule and may never operate as planned. The Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division planned to operate a 50-foot, 50-passenger, enclosed-cabin pontoon boat between the Currituck mainland and Corolla on the Outer Banks. The project stalled in June when state and local environmental officials learned that DOT Ferry Division supervisor Bill Moore used a workboat’s propellers to cut a channel in the shallow sound at Corolla. Officials have consistently cited the need to transport students to school as the main justification.


(10.18.04) Ferry Service Doomed from Start
RALEIGH — Federal documents indicate that the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Currituck-to-Corolla passenger ferry service that was to start May 1 this year was doomed from the start. A May 2003 feasibility study presented to the General Assembly by Ferry Division Director Jerry Gaskill failed to mention past problems in obtaining a dredging permit at the Corolla end of the route. State and federal agencies have launched investigations into illegal dredging at the site. And while the service was initially supposed to transport up to 40 Currituck students, CJ has learned that there are now only six students involved this year.


(9.03.04) Details Emerge on Ferry-Division Raid
RALEIGH — The director of the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division and the superintendent of dredge and field maintenance were the focus of a raid on state offices by state and federal law enforcement officials Aug. 26. Superintendent of Dredge and Field Maintenance Bill Moore, who reports directly to Ferry Division Director Jerry Gaskill, has claimed responsibility for illegal dredging that occurred in May in the Currituck Sound near Corolla. But both he and Gaskill said the dredging was accidental. Moore said that he and other employees did not “kick a channel” with the boat’s propellers, but that they were marking the channel.


(8.30.04) Law Enforcement Raids Ferry Office
RALEIGH — State and federal law-enforcement officials raided several offices of the NC Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division on Thursday. FBI, EPA, and SBI officials remained in the division headquarters in Morehead City the entire day, and took computers and other records, sources say. The raids were related to a probe of possible illegal dredging performed by Ferry Division employees in the Currituck Sound near Corolla. The activity is associated with the establishment of a passenger service from Corolla to Currituck. State and federal agencies are trying to determine whether the dredging was an accident, and if not, who gave the order.


(8.11.04) New Ferry’s Help for Children Limited
RALEIGH — Advocates for the new ferry service across the Currituck Sound pitched it as being necessary for transporting schoolchildren, but documents suggest that improving transportation for resort workers was a significant goal. Only 12 students are expected to ride the ferry this year. And new schools coming into service should eliminate the school-crowding issue that was the main reason given for the service. With NC Senate leader Tem Marc Basnight as the driving force, the General Assembly appropriated $834,000 in 2003 for the project to run a 50-passenger, enclosed-cabin pontoon boat between the Currituck mainland and Corolla on the Outer Banks.


(8.09.04) Probe of Illegal Dredging Continues
RALEIGH — A new ferry service across the Currituck Sound in northeastern North Carolina is scheduled to begin August 17 even though the boat has not been delivered and an investigation of illegal dredging continues. Documents suggest that state and local officials knew dredging would be required, but proceeded with the project without the proper permits. Currituck officials said the ferry service was necessary because students living on the Currituck section of the Outer Banks would no longer be able to attend Dare County schools because of overcrowding. About 12 students are scheduled to be involved in the ferry service this school year.