Eastern Wake News

Column: Zebulon has winning ingredients

Jarmel and Jaaliyah Gash of Wendell enjoy Zebulon’s old fire engine during Festival on the Lawn, held at the Zebulon Municipal Complex on April 30, 2011.
Jarmel and Jaaliyah Gash of Wendell enjoy Zebulon’s old fire engine during Festival on the Lawn, held at the Zebulon Municipal Complex on April 30, 2011. amoody@newsobserver.com

It’s common for college basketball fans to take inventory of their teams’ assets come March Madness time.

So why wouldn’t you do the same if your town was entered into a bracket a la the NCAA tournament to determine the top town in the state?

Thanks to the N.C. League of Municipalities’ inaugural Hometown Showdown bracket contest consisting of 32 North Carolina towns, we now have that opportunity. We felt it only appropriate to pay notice to the things that separate Zebulon from the rest of the pack.

Top-notch facilities: You’d be hard pressed to find a town in a better building situation than Zebulon.

Its community center is a vibrant landmark on the south end of downtown. What was once a National Guard Armory now serves as a full-size gym with several activity rooms. It’s got that brand new feel and look to it – something its patrons take full advantage of five days and four nights a week.

To the north on the same road there’s a former school building-turned new police station, but it’s another old school building located on the same grounds that people think of when they think of Zebulon. The community’s cornerstone, the old Wakelon School, now serves as Zebulon Town Hall.

Town leaders were mindful of the heritage of the 1908 building when they acquired it from GlaxoSmithKline and had it refitted to suit the modern needs of the local governmental. The renovation was completed by 2009 keeping original brickwork visible along stairwells and timber framing exposed in what is now the council chambers upstairs.

That same year, the Town of Zebulon along with the various construction and architectural organizations involved with the renovation of the old Wakelon School met in downtown to receive an Anthemion Award at Capital Area Preservation’s 16th annual award presentation. And in 2010, Zebulon won a Champion Award for Best Redevelopment from Triangle Commercial Real Estate Women for its restoration of the building.

Peanuts and Cracker Jacks: Less than a handful of the 32 towns in the bracket can say they have a professional baseball team in their jurisdiction. Zebulon folks can raise their hands high and proud and say, “We do, we do!”

The Cleveland Indians’ Class A-Advanced Carolina Mudcats are set to open their third season in the Carolina League this spring.

There are few things cooler than riding just minutes down the old highway to Five County Stadium on a Friday night in the summer to catch some Minor League baseball and a post-game fireworks show.

A safe place to be: The community fought for what it considered to be a great need in Zebulon, and by early 2012 it had something to show for its effort.

That was when a great, big, permanent facility on the corner of Old Bunn and Shepard School roads officially replaced a modular unit the Zebulon Boys & Girls Club previously called home. Young club members were ready for that brisk day to arrive. They were waiting in a line outside when the doors opened for the first time.

The club, just down the street from Zebulon Middle School, lives up to its motto of giving local youths a safe place to learn and grow. And the significantly extra space enables staff members to run the club’s programs to their full potential.

As hometown as it gets: It’s the sense of community that gives Zebulon the title of The Town of Friendly People.

It’s the small businesses, the interest groups, the hands-on work of churches and Scout Troops. It’s the Christmas parades and parks and the feel of being in the country just miles outside the big city.

The winner of each round of the Hometown Showdown is determined by which town’s photo on the N.C. League’s Facebook page gains the most likes. Zebulon’s first-round foe is the town of Wallace.

Click here to and like the photo of Zebulon Town Hall by noon this Friday (March 7) to help your hometown advance to the next round of the Hometown Showdown.