Eastern Wake: Community

This Week in History: Nov. 12

Wendell Mighty Mite tailback Devon Terry, left, runs through Zebulon tacklers in the East Wake Football League Super Bowl semifinals in 2004. The Rams won, 33-18, to make the championship game.
Wendell Mighty Mite tailback Devon Terry, left, runs through Zebulon tacklers in the East Wake Football League Super Bowl semifinals in 2004. The Rams won, 33-18, to make the championship game. NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

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, Zebulon was set to revolve a pesky parking lot issue. In 1989, Wake County officials ran into a fiscal roadblock for the Little River reservoir. And in 1969, a well-known chain was opening a store in Zebulon.


Parking is a strange thing when you get to thinking about it. Our increased mobility has created a demand for increased real estate to leave our two-ton transports while we work or sleep. In 2004, Zebulon was running out of parking on one block, but business owners were ready to step up and solve the problem.

Some downtown merchants are prepared to shell out their hard-earned cash to help fix a parking lot dispute that has left them without alley access to their stores on North Arendell Avenue.

Several business owners are prepared to kick in a total of $20,000 toward the parking lot near the intersection of North Arendell and Vance Street. The town would pick up the rest of the tab, although the exact selling price of the 0.23-acre property has not been released.

The situation started back in May, when lot owners Kay and Anthony Mitchell fenced off the property after the town refused to maintain the site. At the time, the Mitchells said they would sell the parking lot to the town for $75,000. But the Zebulon Board of Commissioners declined to purchase the property, saying the price was too steep.

With more and more complaints coming into Town Hall about the lack of parking downtown, town officials now want to purchase the property with the help of merchants. They would pave the lot, adding 18 spaces to the town’s limited parking supply and opening an alley behind several businesses for delivery and access.


There’s a common saying among contractors of all kinds that the lowest bidder is the guy wondering what he left out when adding up his expenses. Things always seem to cost more than experts anticipate, and in 1989 Wake County officials were discovering that “more” might be more to the tune of “200 percent.”

Wake County officials learned last week that construction of the Little River Reservoir may cost twice as much as originally estimated three years ago.

A report presented to the Wake County Board of Commissioners at a meeting Monday indicated that the reservoir could cost up to $42.2 million, well beyond the $19.9 million price tag predicted in 1986. The latest figures were compiled by Hazen and Sawyer, the Raleigh engineering firm contracted in April to complete an environmental impact study of the site near Riley Hill.

The report was issued as the commissioners began reviewing county requests for capital improvements over the next 10 years. Hazen and Savver determined the cost estimated in 1986 was too low because geological maps used to gauge the required depth of the reservoir were not as accurate as county maps used in the environmental assessment. The new report also allowed for the cost of road adjustments and land acquisitions for wildlife relocations.


Locals often joke that once a small town gets this or that, it’s “officially on the map.” The criteria range is based more on personal preference than anything else, often touching on restaurants or shopping centers. In 1964, some Zebulon residents probably felt Zebulon was being “put on the map” as the merchandise chain Popes moved into new, updated quarters in downtown.

The most modern store of the Pope’s chain of 28 stores will open soon in a new location on the main street of Zebulon, it was announced this week by the chain’s construction supervisor, A.J. Rector.

The new store located between Farmer’s Department Store and Temple Market is nearing completion. It has approximately 11,500 square feet of floor space with 10,000 square feet of selling space.

Largest of the chain in eastern North Carolina, the interior will be finished in light green, beige and white colors. New display and lighting fixtures are being installed.

Rector said the new store will be able to offer a bigger assortment and better quality merchandise than has heretofore been offered by the chain’s store in Zebulon.

Pope’s store has been in its present location for 10 years.

President and owner of the chain is John W. Pope. Mrs. Wilbur Hales is manager of the store here.