top of page
  • Writer's pictureCarol Ann Ross

Kicking The Ball

Nearly 80 years ago the peaceful farming area of Holly Ridge was turned upside down by the building of Camp Davis. The place grew rapidly with the 110,000 soldiers that made the area their home during World War II. Along with the influx of young men came all kinds of businesses. There was a movie theater, swimming pool, restaurants, lounges, barber shops and beauty salons. All sorts of businesses arose that catered to a growing population.

Holly Ridge was booming, and then all of a sudden, it was all gone. The war ended and people went back to their original homes. Oh, some stayed and married locals, but for the most part, the town returned to being a quiet place to live. Within a couple of decades it became nearly a ghost town as businesses closed and the population shrunk. But there is nothing wrong with being small and peaceful. In fact, it can be good. However, time changes things and change can be scary, especially if you don’t know what kind of change is coming.

Holly Ridge was booming, and then all of a sudden, it was all gone. The war ended and people went back to their original homes. Oh, some stayed and married locals, but for the most part, the town returned to being a quiet place to live. Within a couple of decades it became nearly a ghost town as businesses closed and the population shrunk. But there is nothing wrong with being small and peaceful. In fact, it can be good. However, time changes things and change can be scary, especially if you don’t know what kind of change is coming.

I’ve known Jeff for several years. He’s the owner of Above Topsail Artwork, a business that produces unique aerial photos and videos in the Topsail area. Yes, he does some nice work. And I think he’s a hard working man, a good family man. Those things are important. He grew up in a close knit family in Freeport, Illinois and was especially close to his father with whom he often worked. So he knows about family and community. I don’t believe they are just sound bites. His wife, Lindsay, and his children come first.

Jeff’s dedication to family and community is reflected in some of the proposals for improvements in Holly Ridge. There are plans to improve the municipal park with a dog park, a splash pad for kids, walking paths, new bathrooms, a handicap accessible playground and a small amphitheater- all of this within the next 5 years. Already the dugouts at the park have been improved and the fencing has been replaced.

There are plans also for a soft ball league in Holly Ridge. Presently the town works with Surf City Parks offering, among other things, the use of the welllit ball fields. Surf City Park has no lighting.

The town is working on creating a parking area at Morris Landing, building bathroom facilities there, and making a walking path. All these will provide improvements to an area that often has been used as a dumping site.

Mr. Wenzel wants the town to grow responsibly and wants there to be jobs for those that will be moving into the area. And no doubt, with the continuous growth of Camp Lejeune and Topsail Island, growth is eminent. Keeping Holly Ridge looking like a place you’d want to live is important too. Thus Hwy. 17 and Hwy. 50 will not be eye sores. The new Industrial Park, located off of 17, stands far back from the highway and is already home to several businesses. An economic incentive plan is being offered to businesses that employ over 30 people. They receive tax credits for five years.

Oceans RV Resort, located on Hwy. 50., is another new business in town offering its residents pickle ball courts, a swimming pool, a dog park and other amenities.

I guess the thing that I was very surprised by, when I talked with the mayor, is that for the first time, Holly Ridge finally has a seat with DOT. At the rate our communities are growing and the poor condition of our roads, it’s about time the DOT listened. Hopefully with a voice, improvements to our roads will be made

I liked what I heard from Jeff. Responsible growth is important. It keeps families in the forefront. After all, communities are based around the needs of families or they should be. The things proposed for Holly Ridge will benefit families more and I’m all for that. We’ve all seen what happens when kids have nothing to do and when communities are interested in other things. Saying you’re a family town, doesn’t make you one. You have to have the conveniences that prove it.

Jeff concluded our interview by saying this, “I’m not a politician, don’t want to become one. I’m just here to kick the ball a little farther down the road. Just to see a little progress in the right direction.” I asked him what he meant by that statement. “I won’t seek re-election.” It sounds like Jeff has the best interest of the town at heart. I wish all politicians felt that way. I hope that all the plans for Holly Ridge come true and that it can still be a nice and peaceful place to live, with improvements that families and their children can enjoy.

Municipal Park | Oceans RV Resort | Jeff and Lindsay Wenzel

Comments


bottom of page