Readers’ favorite headlines of 2015


The 10 stories with the most clicks online or the highest engagement on social media

The news stories that drew readers’ attention in 2015 ranged from a dramatic car wreck involving bank robbers, to an apex predator washing ashore, to an unexpected winner of the annual holiday boat parade. Any sign of local commercial development also interested readers. The top online articles of 2015 represent a variety of topics but a common theme connects them all: stories out of Wrightsville Beach.


1 Crash closes intersection of Wrightsville Avenue and Eastwood Road

Three Washington, D.C., men were arrested by the Wilmington Police Department following a high-speed chase ending in a five-vehicle crash at the intersection of Eastwood Road and Wrightsville Avenue March 23. That morning, police responded to reports that the Bank of America on North Front Street was robbed. The three suspects fled in a dark-colored Toyota and were pursued by police down Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway. The chase lasted approximately six minutes, ending when the suspects’ vehicle sideswiped a van turning into the intersection at Wrightsville Avenue and Eastwood Road, triggering a chain of collisions in both directions. The suspects’ vehicle was split in half and the road was strewn with money. All three men were arrested


2 Great white shark washes onto Wrightsville Beach

An 11-foot-long great white shark weighing approximately 687 pounds washed up dead at the south end of Wrightsville Beach on Dec. 7. The shark had bite marks as big as 15 inches on both of its sides and it also had its left pectoral fin torn off. University of North Carolina Wilmington researchers performed a necropsy Dec. 8 and were able to determine when it died — likely three or four days before washing on shore — but not why.


3  Poe’s Tavern opens in Wrightsville Beach

Poe’s Tavern, a gourmet burger joint with locations in Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, and Atlantic Beach, Florida, opened in Wrightsville Beach the last weekend in October. Poe’s is the newest addition to the Harbor Island business district on Old Causeway Drive, a strip that now includes breakfast and pizza restaurants, a smoothie café, a wine and beer shop and a mercantile. The town recently addressed the issue of limited parking in the growing district by adding parking meters, despite concerns by some of the business owners.


4 Town recommends denial of Red Dog’s ABC permit

The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen voted Nov. 12 to recommend the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) commission deny Red Dog’s owner Charlie Maultsby’s request for a new alcohol permit. The town and Red Dog’s have clashed in court twice over the years because as a private club, the bar is operating in violation of the town’s zoning ordinances, but both times the judge determined the bar’s ABC permit trumped town laws. Maultsby learned that permit was no longer valid because it was filed under different ownership, and to get a new permit he needed the town’s recommendation, which the ABC commission will take into account when making its final decision.


5 Motor yacht a total loss, no charges filed

A 60-foot Sea Ray motor yacht, Somewhere in Time, sank Oct. 31 after its veteran delivery captain, John Wampler of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, hit the north jetty of Masonboro Inlet. Sgt. David Jordan of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, who investigated the incident, said Wampler did not see the low wall leading to the north jetty at Masonboro Inlet. The wall is submerged at high tide. Wrightsville Beach Bluewater Yacht Sales broker Kelly White confirmed by text message the 60-foot Sea Ray Sun Dancer 2007 was listed with him at the time for $699,000.


6 Low-pressure system brings heavy rain, high surf 

The combined effects of a local low-pressure system and Hurricane Joaquin spinning offshore caused record rainfall and major erosion at Wrightsville Beach during the first week in October. One of the beach’s lifeguard stands toppled in the high surf and 50 percent of the island’s north end dunes were eroded, public works director Mike Vukelich said. When it was over, the system had dumped 12 to more than 15 inches of rain across New Hanover County, flooding roads and causing damage in some places.


7 Smallest boat wins grand prize

The smallest boat in Wrightsville Beach’s 33rd annual N.C. Holiday Flotilla boat parade, Brent Jernigan’s 11.5-foot pontoon boat, won Best in Show on Nov. 28. Jernigan and his brother, Chris Jernigan, used strings of blue Christmas lights to turn the tiny craft into a blue marlin. Twenty-three captains entered the 2015 boat parade, which was followed by a fireworks display.


8 Causeway Bridge crash breaks railing, results in DUI charge

A Durham woman, Julia Moore MacCallum, 55, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol Oct. 11 after crashing the truck she was driving into the railing of the Causeway Bridge in Wrightsville Beach. MacCallum was turning from Waynick Boulevard onto the Causeway Bridge when she overshot the turn and crashed into the railing, damaging it and blowing her vehicle’s front tire. Wrightsville Beach police said MacCallum registered a 0.22 blood alcohol concentration.


9 Developers release plan for former Scotchman lot

Developers released plans in late September to redevelop a vacant Salisbury Street lot, in an effort to sway Wrightsville Beach town leaders to rezone part of the lot from commercial to residential. The proposal called for developers to build a single-family home on the residential lot and the neighboring business, Wrightsville SUP, to use the empty building on the commercial lot for retail. The lot has been on the market for two years and several developers have tried and failed to design a feasible project, but the board of aldermen voted against the rezoning during its October meeting.


10 New project proposed for MOI building

While the Scotchman lot remains vacant, another abandoned commercial property, the former location of the Middle of the Island, will be redeveloped after town leaders voted Nov. 12 to let property owner and developer  Nathan Sanders remodel the building for retail use. Sanders first brought his plans before the town’s planning board Oct. 6. While Sanders expects renovations to take years, the project represents further growth in the Harbor Island business district and Wrightsville Beach’s commercial development.

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