This week in history: Sept. 4

August 30, 2013 

Firefighter Todd Blanchard saved nine lives at one time when he rescued a kitten from a mobile home fire in Knightdale in 2003. Blanchard said the kitten clung to his leg as he entered the residence in the Knightdale Estates mobile home park.


Curious about the local news that made headlines 10, 25 and 50 years ago? We’ve got you covered. Our eastern Wake County newspaper archives give a good glimpse at what was going on in the area in years past.

This week in 2003, the Town of Zebulon amended its ordinances to allow the upstairs portions of downtown businesses to be used for apartment living. In 1988, a Knightdale delegation was seeking support from Wake County to have the proposed location of the outer loop of the Raleigh beltline moved farther east. And in 1963, another roadway – U.S. 64 – was being discussed at a Zebulon Rotary Club meeting.


Much like they are today, Zebulon town leaders were looking for ways to create an economic boom in downtown this time 10 years ago.

Downtown business owners were only permitted to use the upstairs spaces of their shops for storage and retail until August of 2003, when the town changed its rules to allow accessory apartments on the second floor.

A required “change of occupancy” permit must be filed with Wake County. “In order for it to be inhabited, it has to be properly permitted,” said Zebulon Planning Department rep Lyddia Pritchard.

Most economic theory says you will shop where you live, Pritchard added. Apartment-style living could generate new restaurants, convenience stores and grocery stores.

“It would just be more liveliness downtown,” Pritchard said. “This creates a 24-hour downtown. Rather than drive to a store, you can walk down the steps and down the street to get what you need.”

Our faithful readers are undoubtedly aware the town recently formed a downtown overlay district designed to encourage development in the downtown and surrounding area.

Local activists are also taking the initial steps in seeking an arts center for the downtown district with the hope it would generate more traffic, and subsequently more business.


Knightdale leaders had endorsements from other Wake County municipalities and were ready to approach the county for additional support in requesting a change to the proposed route of the outer beltline.

The governing bodies in Rolesville and Wake Forest have joined the drive to have the N.C. Department of Transportation move the outer loop route to the vicinity of the airport between Knightdale and Wendell, rather than putting it west of Knightdale in an area that is undergoing residential development.

The Garner Town Board passed the same resolution Monday night.

Wake Commissioner Merrie Hedrick, whose district includes eastern Wake County, said last week that she had arranged for the outer loop issue to be put on the Sept. 19 agenda for the Wake County Board of Commissioners. This was done at the request of Knightdale Councilman Charles Bullock, she said.

Knightdale area citizens who oppose DOT’s planned western route plan to circulate petitions in favor of the eastern location. They are also gathering commitments from area residents to attend the county commissioners’ meeting to seek the county’s endorsement of the eastern route.

The governing bodies of Zebulon, Wendell and Knightdale all adopted resolutions several months ago supporting the relocation of the outer loop to the site between Wendell and Knightdale.


Roadways were also a hot topic this time 50 years ago, but a different highway was under discussion.

N.C. State Highway Commission representative Roger R. Jackson met with members of the Zebulon Rotary Club to give an update on improvements to U.S. 64, which a news article referred to as the “long orphan child” of the commission.

The personable Mr. Jackson, a native of Louisburg and two-term member of the N.C. Legislature, was introduced to the Rotary Club by Ferd Davis, program chairman.

Main reason for the improvements being made on Highway 64 is an administration sufficiently interested in eastern North Carolina to spend money on improving eastern highways, he said.

Included in the improvements are a four-lane section from Raleigh to Neuse River costing $1,000,000; four lanes to near Knott’s store, $1,700,000; four lanes to Wendell bypass, $400,000; six miles of the Zebulon bypass, $3,500,000; and a new location from Zebulon to Tarboro bypass which will be two lines initially at $3,000,000.

Since 1956, Mr. Jackson said, more than $11,000,000 has been spent Highway 64 east of Raleigh. These projects will increase the total to more than $26,000,000.

Included in North Carolina highways are 12,800 miles in the primary system. Improvements in the primary system are supported by 50 percent Federal money, but all maintenance must be done at the state expense.

The secondary system – farm to market, school bus and similar rural roads – adds 59,000 miles to the state system. Half of the secondary system is paved.

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