This Week in History: June 18

June 17, 2014 

Knightdale Public Safety Officers Danny Phillips (left) and Eric Daniels carry James Fraccola from an overturned van during a mock disaster training exercise in Knightdale June 8, 2004.


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

In 2004, children in Knightdale were upset enough over passag of an ordinance that they attended Town Council meetings. In 1989, folks were worried about brown water coming out of their spigots. And in 1964, the local Guardsmen were displaying their firepower.


Sometimes towns have to make tough calls. Often those tough calls come when trying to strike a fair balance between two opposing forces. This time, the opposing forces were safety and recreation. Basketball hoops on cul-de-sacs are good fun, but they can also be dangerous for children and drivers alike.

Normally, parents would be unable to drag their children to a Knightdale Town Council meeting for anything. Unless, of course, basketball is on the line.

A town ordinance prohibiting the placement of basketball hoops in cul-de-sacs has some town residents crying foul – and about a dozen kids showed up at a recent council meeting hoping the shot clock has not run out on their favorite pastime.

Town Manager Gary McConkey said the hoops – placed in the street – create a liability for the town. “Some neighbors were complaining that the goals were interfering with traffic,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to condone playing basketball in the street. As soon as someone gets hurt, we could be sued.”

If town staff receives a complaint about on-street game playing, the goals could be confiscated. McConkey said while that has not happened yet, the town is serious about the ordinance.


While it hardly resembled the viral videos in which people who lived near heavy fracking zones light their water on fire, brown water was a concern in 1989 as Zebulon residents worried for their health.

Most Zebulon residents didn’t have to get up and make coffee last Thursday morning – the water running from the faucet was already black enough to pass for a good, strong cup.

Engineers with McGil and Associates, the Asheville firm completing a water system study for the town of Zebulon, spent most of last Wednesday flushing fire hydrants, checking water flows and testing pressures on selected water lines.

As a result, Zebulon’s continuing water woes got noticeably worse late Wednesday night. Citizens were met with dark toilet bowls and brown shower water on Thursday morning, and the Town Hall was flooded with complaints.

“There is no way I could tell you how many calls we got,” said Janie Richards, the day-time receptionist/dispatcher with the Zebulon Police Department. “It started at 8 a.m. and the phone rang constantly. People just don’t understand that there is nothing we can do about it.


1964 was smack in the middle of the Cold War. When you’re uncertain whether the next day will bring all-out war, it’s often reassuring when your military can put on a show of force – even if it’s just a demonstration.

Guardsmen of Zebulon’s Battery A will conduct a demonstration firing of the Honest John rocket at Fort Bragg this afternoon at 3 o’clock. The public is invited. Interested persons should be at the Main Post Bus Station by 1:30 p.m. to board buses which will take them to the demonstration area.

The Honest John is a free flight ballistic missile weighing approximately 6,000 pounds and having a range of about 20 miles. The warhead weighs about 1,500 pounds and can be either a conventional or nuclear type.

The motor burns approximately 4 seconds after firing, at which time the missile is traveling 1,400 mph. Observers at the demonstration today will be able to watch the rocket from the time it leaves the launcher until it reaches the target area about seven miles away. The rocket will burst 300 feet above the target.

The firing will climax two weeks of field training by the local Guardsmen, who will return to Zebulon Sunday afternoon.

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