Eastern Wake: Community

This Week in History: Jan. 28

Snow causes trouble to motorists on North Arendell Avenue in Zebulon in January, 2005. Due to icy roads and congestion, many motorists spent hours in their vehicles and almost 3,000 students stayed the night in Wake County schools.
Snow causes trouble to motorists on North Arendell Avenue in Zebulon in January, 2005. Due to icy roads and congestion, many motorists spent hours in their vehicles and almost 3,000 students stayed the night in Wake County schools. 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 2005, Raleigh drivers proved that all you need for a “perfect storm” is half an inch of snow, drivers that don’t know how to deal with it, and really, really bad timing. In 1990, the Zebulon town board was looking toward the future at their retreat. And in 1965, Zebulon phones were getting another upgrade.


Eastern Wake County residents will remember the day less than an inch of snow crippled the area’s roadways. Many drivers found trips that would normally have than them 30 minutes instead took over 12 hours as drivers slogged through slush and snow, spinning out and sliding down hills.

While the snow-induced commotion of Jan. 19 forced almost 3,000 students to spend the night at school and left thousands of Wake County commuters stuck in traffic, many eastern Wake residents are likely to remember the day as a time of good deeds and cooperation.

On Wednesday, Jan. 19, many drivers wondered if U.S. 64 in and around Knightdale would ever clear of trucks, vans and cars. The main artery started getting clogged around 1 p.m., less than two hours after the snow began to fall. After Wake County schools let students go 90 minutes ahead of the normal release schedule, school buses started driving them home, only to get stuck on U.S. 64 and other main thoroughfares. Parents trying to pick up their children from school and employees attempting to get home from work a few hours early experienced the same fate, slipping and sliding on icy roads. Some drivers ended up spending as long as 11 or 12 hours on trips that normally take less than an hour.

Carla Madjar of Zebulon was glad she had company when she was stuck in traffic on U.S. 64 for more than seven hours. Madjar met Glenda Gay of Zebulon at a gas station and the two decided to join forces, sharing a ride back to the “Town of Friendly People.” “We’ve had a ball,” Gay said, sitting in Madjar’s car on U.S. 64. “You might as well laugh.”

[...]Drivers were not the only ones affected by icy roads and traffic gridlock. At 7 p.m., Hodge Road Elementary still had 194 students waiting for rides home, Principal Jamee Lynch said. The students watched videos and played in the gym while parents tried to get to the Knightdale school. “The kids thought it was fun and were excited,” Lynch said. “They had it better than a lot of their parents.”


You don’t get anywhere by only looking backward along the road you’ve been traveling. So in 1990, Zebulon was looking forward during its town board retreat.

The Zebulon town board met in an all-day work session Saturday to hear reports on the town’s economic condition and to discuss ongoing and future projects.

The session was mediated by James H. Svara, a professor of political science at N.C. State University. Commissioner Windel Perry was absent from the meeting – he is still recovering from open-heart surgery performed in mid-December.

“It is important from time to time to break away from the local setting to review what is the best course to take as elected officials,” Svara told the group. “It is a chance to get away from the normal pace.”

And that is what the commissioners – along with town staff – did for 12 hours on Saturday.

Town Planner David Bender presented a report on past conditions, and proposed trends facing Zebulon in the future. Information was based on economics, population and housing.

“Zebulon’s per capita income is lower than the national average,” Bender reported. “It appears that people inside the corporate limits travel outside of Zebulon to work and those within five or 10-minutes of town, they are lower paid.”

Bender was unable to give the commissioners an idea of what Zebulon’s unemployment rate is because figures are mostly taken on a countywide level.


It seems like when progress comes, it comes all at once. In 1965, Zebulon residents were looking at a nice little upgrade for their telephone service.

B.G. Skidmoore, Southern Bell’s manager, said that Southern Bell will spend $85,000 in new construction to provide additional facilities in the Zebulon area during 1965.

“A major improvement project scheduled for the Zebulon and Wendell area for 1965 is the provision of toll-free service to Raleigh,” said Skidmore. “We feel that this new service will mean much to the growth and development of this area.”

He added, “We are confident that the Zebulon area’s development and expansion will continue at its present rate or perhaps even faster. This prediction is based on business and residential forecasts we make in order to meet telephone needs as they develop.”

And to think, by now in 2015, the consumer base is so used to IP phones and cellular devices, we’d have a fit over any long distance calls at all!