This week in history: July 24

July 22, 2013 

Instructor Barnanne Creech, left, reads a story to learning-to-swim candidates at Zebulon Country Club in 2003.


Wondering what was going on in the area 10, 25 and 50 years ago? Wonder no more. Our eastern Wake County newspaper archives have the answers and we pull clips each week to share with you the news that made headlines.

This week in 2003, the Town of Wendell purchased a large tract of land next to Wendell Community Park, a move the town’s parks and recreation director had hoped would come true. In 1988, employees of the Town of Wendell challenged members of the Knightdale Town Council to a softball game with a coveted trophy on the line. And in 1963, Zebulon Rotarians were given an update on the town’s finances for the 1963-64 fiscal year.


On every trip to and from work from 2001 until this week in 2003, Wendell Parks and Recreation Director Brinkley Wagstaff came across a “for sale” sign on the 45-acre parcel next to the Wendell Community Park property.

Every time he saw the sign, he wished the town would purchase the property.

His dream became reality when the Town Board decided to make the transaction with Wake County.

“If the town didn’t green-light the purchase, who knows what that parcel would house in a few years?” Wagstaff asked. “Because our opportunities to expand the park and the community center were quite limited due to a residence and a railroad on other sides, it was very important for this park’s future to secure this parcel behind the center. Now, if and when Wendell grows, we have enough room to expand this site.”

Wendell will dole out about $394,000 of the price of $836,000, Town Manager Tim Burgess said, adding the deal will also include about $10,000 in closing costs. Wake County will foot the rest of the bill with monies set aside for open space.


A diamond duel between Knightdale and Wendell was tentatively scheduled this week 25 years back, to coincide with the 1988 Bright Leaf Folk Festival slated for the following fall.

The fabled “water meter” trophy, symbolic of municipal softball excellence in Wendell and Knightdale, is coming out of the mothballs.

The Town of Wendell, which has held a firm grip on the trophy in its short two-year existence, has issued a softball challenge to the Knightdale Town Council.

The “challenge” will match Wendell and Knightdale officials in a softball game on Sept. 17 at Wendell Park.

The Knightdale Town Council, still smarting from a 26-10 shellacking at the hands of Wendell in the inaugural game played in November of 1986, was expected to accept the challenge at a work session held on Wednesday (July 20).

“We’ll probably accept the challenge and we’ll probably beat them,” Knightdale Town Manager Dennis Gabriel said, noting Knightdale issued the original challenge.

Before voting to issue the challenge at its July 11 regular meeting, members of the Wendell Board of Commissioners fired the opening salvos in what is shaping into a “war” of friendly words between the two towns.

“The Town of Knightdale deserves the privilege to try and win the trophy back,” Commissioner Ray Watson said. Commissioner Bill Womack quickly replied, “I would like to see them try to win it back.”


Zebulon Town Manager Willie B. Hopkins told attendees of a local Rotary Club meeting the town’s 1963-64 spending plan called for “big business.”

What he was describing 50 years ago: Zebulon’s $502,000 budget.

Biggest item in the 1963-64 budget is $392,000 for a new water purification plant and lines. Stressing the need for the new water system, he said, “I hope we don’t give out the water before the new plant is built.”

The budget also included funding for a new staff position – a superintendent of the street department. The town had employed a sanitation superintendent in 1962.

Planned improvements on streets during the coming year include curbs and gutters on streets which do not have them at present.

Willie B. said he has held every title in municipal government except mayor and commissioner, and “I won’t ever get any of them because I’d never get elected!”

“My duties,” he said, “are to work with the mayor and commissioners as administrative officer.”

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