WENDELL — It’s been a mostly quiet year in Wendell but it’s just because the town has been saving the best news for the last few months of the year.
With a renewed promise of a development project that would change all of eastern Wake County, Wendell has accomplished this year what some might not have thought to be possible: the small town is showing although it may not be big (yet), it has the potential to be mighty.
And most of that change happened in the last four months of the year.
Here’s a look back, in chronological order, of the events that had the town and the rest of the county talking.
Fuller leaves race: After serving Wendell for over 40 years as a police officer, police chief and town manager, commissioner Ira Fuller, in September, bowed out of his 2013 re-election campaign to focus on his health. A few weeks before the deadline to withdraw from the race, Fuller found out there were blockages in the arteries near his heart and decided it was time to step away from town business and focus on staying well. He served as Wendell’s police chief fof nine years, town manager for 19 years and finished one term as a commissioner.
Rescued from bankruptcy: Five years after the project was halted, Wendell Falls got its big second start this October when Newland Communities bought the 1,100-acre project out of bankruptcy. The property was foreclosed upon so Newland got the property at a fraction of what the original developers paid for the land. When complete, Wendell Falls is supposed to bring businesses to eastern Wake County and will have about 4,000 homes to draw more residents. The entire project is expected to take almost a decade to complete.
New town leadership: With Ira Fuller out of the race, the November Board of Commissioner election was a foregone conclusion: first-time candidates Jon Lutz and John Boyette would be taking seats along with incumbent Ginna Gray in the first uncontested race in Wendell in several election cycles.
A new front door: Shortly after Wendell Falls was purchased, the $28 million road leading into the planned subdivision was completed and opened for traffic. Since 2008 when the Wendell Falls project was put on hold, the road essentially led to nowhere. The ribbon cutting of the road in early December was the first tangible evidence of the revitalization of the effort to create Wendell Falls.
Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews