NEWS—Year in Review 2015



A pedestrian on Wrightsville Avenue near Lumina Commons, 32-year-old Russell Hampton Parker, was struck and killed by a vehicle on Saturday, Jan. 3.

Civil rights activist Angela Davis spoke at the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Kenan Auditorium on Tuesday, Jan. 20 as part of the university’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management released a draft plan, effective from 2017-2022, to enable oil and gas companies to drill in the waters 50 miles off the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.



The Blockade Runner Beach Resort hosted a well-attended forum that allowed officials from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management along with members of state environmental groups, such as the Surfrider Foundation, and local politicians to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the bureau’s draft plan to allow offshore drilling off the coast of North Carolina on Tuesday, Feb. 17.

A barge dropped two loads of concrete pipe over the Liberty Ship reef, also known as the Meares Harriss Reef, located 3.5 nautical miles from the Masonboro Inlet sea buoy, on Feb. 17 and Feb. 20. Funded with a $637,500 N.C. Coastal Recreational Fishing License grant and private funding from the Bruce Barclay Cameron Foundation, more than 2 million tons of concrete material were dropped over local artificial reefs to provide habitat for ocean life on barren stretches of the sea floor.

A dusting of snow covered Wrightsville Beach on Tuesday, Feb. 24.



Joetta Cobb sits in one of the last two live oak trees to be trimmed in the median of Live Oak Drive March 18.

Joetta Cobb sits in one of the last two live oak trees to be trimmed in the median of Live Oak Drive March 18.

More than a dozen residents of Live Oak Drive peacefully protested Duke Energy’s plan to trim live oak trees in the street’s median on Wednesday, March 18. The trees are estimated to range from 75 to 100 years old.

The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen voted to construct a sidewalk on Coral Drive using $150,000 from the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization’s $292,000 Surface Transportation Project-Direct Apportionment grant.

Wilmington police responded to an attempted robbery call from Bank of America on North Front Street. Jimmy Cox, 23, Brenton Jenkins, 18, and Darrick Lee Jones, 42, were arrested following a high-speed chase ending in a five-vehicle crash at the intersection of Eastwood Road and Wrightsville Avenue on Monday, March 23. The three Washington, D.C., residents were charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon and second degree kidnapping.



Principals of the Myrtle Beach-based investment firm Burroughs and Chapin purchased the Lumina Station retail, restaurant and office center for $8.74 million from Joel Tomaselli, Jim Wallace, Gene Miller, John Elmore and Lionel Yow on Wednesday, April 1.

Duke Energy contractor Asplundh cut the town’s live oaks away from Duke Energy power lines lining the John Nesbitt Loop adjacent to the causeway. Wrightsville Beach Mayor Bill Blair said it was not a great day for the town. Blair and town manager Tim Owens were on location when the trees were cut.

Former Wrightsville Beach employee Francois L. Baldwin filed a suit in U.S. District Court accusing the town of racial discrimination, wrongful termination and violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Baldwin was a utility maintenance mechanic for the water and sewer department from May 2011 to December 2012.

Wilmington city officials were at the former Galleria shopping center on the morning of Wednesday, April 29, after at least two large trees were cut down without a permit, one of them a 40-inch diameter old-growth live oak.



A combined effort by local surfers and Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue saved a man who was stranded on the end of the Wrightsville Beach south end jetty Saturday, May 2, after he was caught in a strong current and washed onto the rocks.

Tropical Storm Ana swept over Wrightsville Beach on Saturday, May 9.

To satisfy a state mandate, Duke Energy proposed to move most of its coal ash from storage ponds that are leaking into groundwater on Sutton Steam Plant property and the Cape Fear River into securely lined landfills farther from the river, but still on the Sutton property. On Monday, May 18, residents saw exactly what the company had in mind during a Q-and-A drop-in session.

Hordes of beachgoers converged on Wrightsville Beach to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend. Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue captain Jeremy Owens said the lifeguards made 10 rescues Monday and responded to one major medical emergency, a stroke. WBOR Lieutenant Sam Proffitt performed rescue breathing on the man, so when emergency medical services arrived to transport him to the hospital, he was breathing and had a pulse.

Hundreds of small American flags fluttered in the breeze as civilians and uniformed military personnel filed onto the grounds of the National Cemetery on Market Street and the Battleship North Carolina for Memorial Day Observances during the morning and evening hours of Monday, May 25.



The New Hanover County Board of Education voted 4-3 to extend Superintendent Tim Markley’s contract through June 2019.

William Bulluck Creasy Jr., 87, died at home Thursday, June 4 in Wrightsville Beach. The local was a founding member of the Wrightsville Beach Preservation Society.

Wrightsville Beach police officers made a rare water rescue at the end of Bermuda Drive to save an intoxicated man attempting to flee law enforcement at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, June 7.

New Hanover County homeowners will pay higher property taxes in the coming year. The board of commissioners approved a 2-cent increase in the tax rate on Monday, June 22, as part of a $302 million operating budget for 2015-16.



As the beach strand and waters from Mason Inlet to Masonboro Island were inundated by nearly 25,000 July Fourth revelers, a unified command center of law enforcement agencies worked to keep celebrations safe by writing alcohol citations, responding to medical emergencies and collecting piles of trash. Deputies patrolling Wrightsville’s beach strand wrote 40 civil citations.

Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue tends to four swimmers rescued from a rip current by surfers Trey Lewis and Deaton Wright July 17 north of Johnnie Mercer’s Pier.

Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue tends to four swimmers rescued from a rip current.

Two surfers rescued four novice swimmers from a rip current near Johnny Mercer’s Pier on Friday, July 17, at 7:30 p.m. Trey Lewis and his friend Deaton Wright brought the swimmers to shore using their surfboards. Wrightsville Beach rescue personnel treated the swimmers at the scene.

The Wilmington City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing offshore drilling off the North Carolina coast during its Tuesday, July 21, meeting.

The Commission on Accreditation and Law Enforcement for Law Enforcement Agencies, a national organization that describes itself as the Gold Standard in Public Safety, certified the Wrightsville Beach Police Department and New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office during a July 25 ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado.



The Wrightsville Beach Police Department saw a string of resignations, including three resignations in July and early August. A total of seven officers out of the 25 on the force left between April and August.

Konrady and Son Construction, Wilmington resident Rick Shiver and state Rep. Rick Catlin (R-New Hanover) received Pelican Awards from the North Carolina Coastal Federation for their efforts to protect and enhance the state’s coast.

Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue placed third in the small beach category of the United States Lifesaving Association’s National Lifeguard Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida, Aug. 6-8.

Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue saved a Wilmington man Saturday, Aug. 9, after his kayak capsized when he was snagged by a fishing hook from a line cast from Johnnie Mercer’s Pier. Lifeguard Tyler Howell paddled a rescue boat about 300 yards to assist Hugh Taylor, 54, who was hanging onto his capsized single-person kayak.

Seven Boy Scouts rode their bikes nearly 4,000 miles, from Florence, Oregon, to Wrightsville Beach, and raised $30,000 for the Be Loud! Sophie Foundation, an organization that supports cancer patients and their families at University of North Carolina hospitals. The boys finished their cross-country journey at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort on Wednesday, Aug. 19.

To honor 11 fallen U.S. Marines and National Guardsmen, while also raising money for a group to support them, Wilmington resident Henry Singletary swam more than 12 miles around Wrightsville Beach on Saturday, Aug. 29.



Don Gilstrap died on Monday, Sept. 7, with his family at his side. The 90-year-old WWII veteran was known for constructing and selling the boat-a-miniums at Seapath Marina, as well as serving as president of the Seapath Homeowners Association for eight years and president of the Seapath Yacht Club for 13 years.

The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen voted Thursday, Sept. 10, to appeal FEMA’s preliminary flood zone maps in an attempt to secure a lower-risk flood zone — and lower flood insurance rates — for Harbor Island. An independent study found most of Harbor Island should be in the lower-risk AE zone rather than the highest-risk VE zone.

North Carolina General Assembly agreed to increase the share of the state gas tax that goes toward dredging inlets less than 16 feet deep as part of the 2015-17 state budget legislation. The fund will grow $18 million over the former allocation of a little over $6 million. The funds will pay for periodic dredging of inlets up and down the coast, such as Masonboro Inlet.

Biology and marine biology students at the University of North Carolina Wilmington will study the ecological impacts of manufactured chemicals on estuarine fish after the university received a $399,884 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. The grant will fund a three-year project to be conducted in UNCW’s Center for Marine Science located on the Intracoastal Waterway, as well as inside an on-campus laboratory in Dobo Hall.



Hurricane Joaquin dumped 12 to 15 inches of rain across New Hanover County, flooding roads and causing damage in some places. The heaviest showers occurred on Sunday, Oct. 4.

A historical highway marker was unveiled in Wrightsville Beach on Sunday, Oct. 18, recognizing the island as the birthplace of surfing in North Carolina and a pioneer of surfing on the East Coast. The marker was installed on the corner of Waynick Boulevard and Bridgers Street because Burke Haywood Bridgers and a few of his friends were the first to ride waves at Wrightsville Beach in 1909.

On Thursday, Oct. 22, volunteers picked up 130 cigarette butts left around Johnnie Mercer’s Pier despite the town’s no-smoking regulations.

The New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority joined more than 600 towns, tourism boards, chambers of commerce, restaurant associations and fishing groups to formally adopt a resolution opposing offshore drilling. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said he supports the drilling.

TowBoat U.S. recovers “Somewhere in Time,” a 60-foot Sea Ray, from the north jetty at Masonboro Inlet Oct. 31.

TowBoat U.S. recovers “Somewhere in Time.” 

A motor yacht sank in minutes after it hit the north jetty at Masonboro Inlet on Saturday, Oct. 31. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued the veteran yacht delivery captain, John Wampler of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after he issued a mayday from the 60-foot Sea Ray, Somewhere in Time, at 9:57 a.m. Wampler was not injured.



Wrightsville Beach Mayor Bill Blair was re-elected Nov. 3 after running unopposed for a second term he did not originally intend to seek. Darryl Mills and Elizabeth King were also re-elected.

The Wilmington City Council incumbents running for re-election, Wilmington Mayor Pro-Tem Margaret Haynes and council member Neil Anderson, retained their seats during the municipal election Nov. 3 while newcomer Paul Lawler narrowly defeated Deb Hays.

Wrightsville Beach assistant public works director Steve Dellies resigned Nov. 9 after a two and one-half day suspension following an email to his supervisor that defended the work of his department in a tone that was critical of town staff and leaders.

The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen recommended the Alcohol Beverage Control commission deny Red Dog’s owner Charlie Maultsby’s request for a renewed alcohol permit.

Owner of the former Middle of the Island property, Nathan Sanders, received permission from the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen Nov. 12 to redevelop the long-vacant building for retail use.

Wilmington native Dr. Robert Bertram Williams died Nov. 16 at age 95. His career included caring for injured Marines in the South Pacific in World War II and operating on uninsured patients in New Hanover and Pender counties.

Wrightsville Beach Fire Chief Frank Smith announced his retirement Nov. 19 after nearly three decades with the town’s fire department.

Brent and Chris Jernigan won Best in Show at Wrightsville Beach’s N.C. Holiday Flotilla Nov. 28 for decorating their 11-foot pontoon boat as the Merry Marlin.



Forest Hills Global Elementary’s popular dual language immersion program will transfer to Gregory School of Science, Math and Technology next year after the New Hanover County School Board voted 4-3 Dec. 1 to move it.

An 11-foot long great white shark weighing approximately 687 pounds washed up dead at the south end of Wrightsville Beach on Dec. 7. University of North Carolina Wilmington researchers performed a necropsy on the shark Dec. 8 and were able to determine when it died — likely three or four days before washing on shore — but not why.

Wrightsville Beach firefighter Marc Scott was named Firefighter of the Year on Dec. 12 during the fire department’s 100th annual Christmas dinner at 22 North sponsored by the Wrightsville Beach Volunteer Firefighters Association.

Wrightsville Beach Public Works Director Mike Vukelich announced his retirement Dec. 15 after 15 years in charge of the department. His last day of employment will be Jan. 31, 2016.

Copyright 2015 Lumina News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Leave A Reply

WP-Backgrounds by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann