Jeff Wenzel and Scott Franko

Mayor Jeff Wenzel, Town of Holly Ridge brought his usual high level of enthusiasm to our Club meeting this week. He was proud to announce that Holly Ridge is the 2nd fasting growing town in North Carolina! Back in the day, Holly Ridge was the Highway 50 gateway to Topsail Island for those beach goers coming from the Mountains, Piedmont, and Research Triangle. Even before a tourist cross roads though, Holly Ridge served an important role during World War II as Camp Davis was established to train military personnel for the war effort. Following the war, Operation Bumble Bee commenced operations on Topsail Island with Holly Ridge providing services for the engineers and other personnel associated with the project.

However, once Jeff got up on his soap box there was no slowing down the torrential stream of achievements and issues facing Holly Ridge during this rapid period of growth. Obviously, one reason for the rapid population growth in Holly Ridge is the ‘small-town’ atmosphere combined with the many opportunities for outdoor activities in Town or nearby like Topsail Island beaches. The Town’s Morris Landing access to the ICW and boating activities is also a demonstration site for a 1000′ long ‘Living Shoreline’ through a partnership with the NC Coastal Federation to show how these structures can limit sound-side shoreline erosion. Future plans call for restrooms at the site and a multiuse path to connect it with Municipal Park. Jeff relayed that many residents who enjoy the Municipal Park want an expansion of recreational facilities in town. Now that the Town has adopted a Master Park Plan, grant monies will become available for further expansion of park facilities.

One of the biggest budget issues that the Holly Ridge Town Council faces this year is the need to resurface all the town streets at a cost of several million dollars, something Jeff hopes the board can stagger out in the future.

Small town image aside, Jeff was proud to relay the development going on at the Camp David Industrial Park that parallels Hwy 17 on the southwest side of Town. Gulfstream Steel Supply has been providing metal stock materials to various fabricating companies in the area for several years now. The big new addition is Onslow Bay Boats who have constructed a facility that allows for their boats to move along an assembly line from fiberglass molding to completed boat all under one roof and one production line. Atlantic Seafood, a wholesale seafood provider, has recently constructed three large buildings with one a freezer building offering a capacity for up to two million pounds of product at their new site in the industrial park. The other two buildings will serve maintenance and admin operations for the company.

Jeff described plans for Phase 2 expansion of the park where about 45 acres of land will be divided into nine lots with infrastructure included through development grants to the Town. These lots will be shovel ready for their new tenets within 6-12 months.

Scott Franko

Scott Franko is Director of Marketing for Treasure Realty and a commercial real estate agent involved with regional economic development. In addition to working with Holly Ridge, Scott also helped the Topsail Island Shoreline Protection Commission come up with a logo for their new ‘BEach Clean‘ initiative. Scott following Jeff with his own high level of enthusiasm, described how the Town of Holly Ridge wanted to unify their branding not just for their official website, but for all the ‘signage’ that is used around town for official business as well as for the new Town Park Master Plan. Trail markers, playground equipment, street signage with directions to Municipal Park, etc. will be included. To accomplish this, Scott is helping the Town work on a vision and mission statement that he will then reflect in the new branding materials. In his branding work Scott believes that “one must remember their past to move forward to the future.”

Author note: The photos in this story do not reflect the high quality of photography that Jeff Wenzel is know for and who when his business operation was much smaller, regularly attended our Kiwanis Club meetings and took the photographs so that this writer could focus on writing – given his poor photography technique. My apologies, Jeff!