This Week in History

Putting down pavement

June 10, 2014 

Zebulon High School graduated its final class of seniors Saturday, June 3, 1989.

FILE PHOTO

This week in history we look back 10, 25 and 50 years to see what was happening in the eastern Wake County area.

In 2004, Zebulon was looking into sprucing up the place. In 1989, that pesky outer loop was once again experiencing delays. And in 1964, the chief of police in Zebulon struggled with apprehending a culprit that was far from the usual suspect.

2004

The struggle against time is a story known to all. Entropy will have its way with everything, and it is only through concerted effort that we can restore what has faded back to its former glory. In the case of a town, that can take quite a bit of money. In 2004, Zebulon was looking at just over half a million dollars to revitalize its downtown.

Thanks to a $600,000 grant from the state, Zebulon will soon be able to pave the way for a smoother future by completing its downtown revitalization project – an endeavor put on hold when the town lost the state reimbursements to local governments.

Zebulon learned June 4 it will receive about $200,000 in small urban funds and about $400,000 in economic development funds from North Carolina, Town Manager Rick Hardin said. The town, which originally applied for the funds in October 2002, will use the money for the delayed makeover, Hardin said. “We wanted to finish the project a few years ago, but, when the state decided to hold the reimbursements, we simply did not have the money to do so. These funds will enable us to finish what we started.”

The money comes from the Department of Transportation. It will be used for: milling and repaving pavement; removing and replacing curb and gutter and drainage structures; and removing existing deteriorated sidewalks, then replacing them with either brick pavers or concrete “stamps” which look like bricks. The project will include the 100 block of South Arendell Avenue plus the whole 200 block and half the 300 block of North Arendell Avenue.

1989

Some may take the Interstate 540 exchange at U.S. 64 for granted, but if our archives are any indication, it was a real pain in the neck to get going. Fortunately for us, the year isn’t 1989, when the roadway construction had hit another delay.

Although the N.C. General Assembly is moving toward approving funds for building an outer loop of the Raleigh beltline as far east as U.S. 64 at Knightdale, state highway officials say the first phase of that project will likely stop several miles from the Knightdale area.

The N.C. House of Representatives last Thursday voted 90-25 to approve a bill financing $8.6 million worth of highway improvements including the Northern Wake Expressway, the first half of the outer loop that will run from the Apex/Cary area around Raleigh to the Knightdale/eastern Wake area on the east.

That proposal, the N.C. Highway Trust Fund bill, now goes to the Senate, where details on the road projects and financing methods have already been under discussion for several weeks.

However, officials with the N.C. Department of Transportation have confirmed that their preliminary construction plans for the outer loop do not include the full scope of the Northern Wake Expressway, primarily because of substantial eastern Wake County opposition to the original route that showed the expressway crossing U.S. 64 west of Knightdale. A local public hearing on proposed routes is expected sometime in July and may include a Knightdale meeting site.

1964

Catching criminals is hard business. Catching criminals that have six legs, wings, a stinger and a bad attitude can be pretty hard, too, as Zebulon Police Chief Willie Hopkins found out 50 years ago. And you’d think the worst a bee can do is sting you.

Well... apparently you’d be wrong.

Zebulon Police Chief Willie B. Hopkins has come to the conclusion it’s easier to apprehend a criminal than a bumble bee.

Saturday afternoon the genial police chief was driving along and a bee sailed into his car. The chief began to swat at the bee. The bee took refuge in the back seat.

More fighting between bee and Hopkins. The bee drive-bombed[sic] to the floor of the back seat. Hopkins kept on with his struggle. He reached over, his powerful body contortioning to find the fighting insect.

In the back seat struggle, Hopkins ripped two ribs from his breast bone and he landed in Wendell-Zebulon Hospital for observation and treatment.

Yessir, the chief readily concedes that it is easier to put a Saturday night drunk in the hoosegow than it is to apprehend a bumble bee.

P.S.: Hopkins got the bee.

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