Brunswick County Real Estate market trending in positive direction

By Sam Hickman
Brunswick Beacon
Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 3:45 pm

BOLIVIA — As numbers from last year’s trickled in at the beginning of the year, local real estate brokers had plenty of reason to be enthused about the market again.

Annual sales numbers obtained by the Beacon last week show that Brunswick County had a 7 percent increase from 2013 to 2014 in total sales revenue, which mostly include the housing market, according to figures from the Brunswick County Association of Realtors.

Leland is not included in the data provided by the Brunswick County Association of Realtors because is part of the Wilmington area multiple listing services when data is compiled, Carolina Plantations owner and broker-in-charge Doug Terhune said.

Date show 3,232 total sales transactions in 2013 while 100-plus more sales were made in 2014 — a 3-percent increase.

Brunswick County Association of Realtors CEO Steve Candler and administrative assistant Cynthia Cumbee attribute to the rise of total sales revenue and transactions to an improving economy.

“We’re encouraged by these recent trends,” Candler said. “These numbers are reflected by the fact that membership has increased in the association in the last couple years. The economy is improving enough to bring these folks back in the fold.”

When the economy began to plummet in the mid- to late 2000s, the housing market was no longer one that benefitted sellers, association member and Realtor Bruce Williams said.

“I’ve never seen it in the industry drop so dramatically,” Williams said. “To see it move and turn in the right direction, like it’s doing now, is certainly heartwarming. When the economy began to struggle, it was as if everything was just going downhill. Buyers, sellers, Realtors, moving companies, plumbers, electricians, roofers, the economy affects all of those individuals.”

“Those were lean and scary times for Brunswick County,” Terhune said. “There were several factors that fueled the downturn.

(READ MORE)

The leading edges of the baby boomers were starting to retire. Developers and builders in this region couldn’t cut down trees and put four stakes in the ground fast enough.

“Back then, we were really selling virtual communities. When the economy halted, many developers were so leveraged that when they didn’t have a revenue stream, they couldn’t continue to stay open. Within years, thousands of people who bought home sites in these virtual communities had to decide whether to pay mortgage on their home in Maryland or pay the mortgage on their home site in Ocean Isle Beach. The value of land precipitously dropped to, in some cases, as much as 5 to 10 percent of the prices paid by this group of baby boomers.”

Terhune credits the upward trends, in part, to much better interest rates.
“The interest rates have been huge,” he said. “People back in the 1980s, in that market they paid 11 to 16 percent interest in a home at one point. Four percent interest rates, that’s like free money.”

Carolina Plantations conducted market research that showed almost 10,000 to 15,000 baby boomers were retiring per day, Terhune said.

“If those people have the means, they want to leave high taxes,” he said. “They want to leave the cold weather. They want to leave the congestion. They want to leave the bad traffic. They want to go someplace warmer and affordable.”

When the economy took a downturn, the baby boomers no longer had the resources to leave their permanent homes in the northeast region of the United States.

Terhune said those with the resources to move are starting to buy homes in Brunswick County again for several reasons. Prospective buyers always look at what he calls “the stuff.”

“They don’t want to live in the big city,” he said. “They want to be near the beach in a warm climate in an area with great medical services, shopping, dining, entertainment and airport accessibility. That’s what they’re looking for. Those folks don’t want to be isolated.”

When Terhune analyzes the east coast between Richmond, Va., and the Georgia-Florida boundary, he knows why Brunswick County has been so successful in landing retirees.
“The only other area that has what Brunswick County has is perhaps Wilmington, and the Hilton Head (S.C.) areas,” he said. “But even with Wilmington, people want to move away from that congestion.”

Terhune pointed out places like the Outer Banks, which is too isolated, Charleston, S.C., which has a big-city feel, and Savannah, Ga., as areas where retirees don’t want to settle when moving from a populous area in the north.

“Brunswick County has the stuff these individuals are looking for,” he said. “Right now, we’re in a rooftop economy. Brunswick County is building lots of rooftops.”

Terhune said Ocean Ridge has more than 30 homes under construction; St. James, 100; Compass Pointe near Leland, more than 40; and Brunswick Forest, more than 90.

“Just with those communities, that’s more than 300 homes currently under construction in this area,” he said. “We’re in a rooftop economy. That’s a lot of rooftops.”

When the economy is strong, Candler added, it naturally increases the tax base.

“There’s an increase in the tax base through natural inflation or the services the county can provide the citizens,” he said.

Candler, Williams and Cumbee said they realized the economy would rebound from the worst recession the country has seen in several years.

“Our chief economist (with the National Association of Realtors), Lawrence Yun, said it’d be a 10-year cycle,” Williams said. “Everything we’ve heard from him since has been much of the same.”

While Candler is excited about the trends in Brunswick County, he doesn’t want prices on homes to skyrocket as a result.

“I think for the benefit of the county, the slow, steady increase in price of the units sold, it’d be best if they’d continue to increase by 4 to 7 percent,” he said. “An increase of that amount each year would be more manageable than the ups and downs of a roller coaster. A manageable market is better for buyers and sellers.”

“That’s right,” Cumbee said. “When you have big ups, that means the big downs are coming.”

Candler said, “For every mountain, there’s a valley. That’s what you have to be mindful of.”

Additionally, real estate brokers are seeing less and less distressed properties through Brunswick County. Distressed properties include foreclosures, short sales and bank-owned homes, among other properties.

In recent years, federal legislation had quite an impact on the local housing market, especially after the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 was passed.

The act, which would have caused a dramatic increase in flood insurance rates for homeowners, especially in the coastal region, was eventually repealed, but still created ripple effects throughout the local real estate industry, Candler said.

“It affected people in several ways,” he said. “People wanted to see if federal insurance was available, first of all. People wanted to see if they could sell their homes because of the rate increases.”

Legislation has since been passed that repealed the provisions of the Biggert-Waters Act, restoring confidence in those deciding whether to sell or buy their secondary homes on the coast.

“I anticipate when the flood maps are redrawn and approved, several homes will move from the VE zone to the AE zones, which is much more affordable when it comes to flood insurance,” Candler said. “This will once again increase home ownership in Brunswick County.”

The real estate industry is vital to Brunswick County, Candler said.

“It really is. We just don’t have the other types of industries the places like Raleigh have,” he said. “The pendulum swings better when the housing market is doing well. The sales taxes are better, more people are employed and individuals are spending the money they’re making back into the local economy. It certainly helps.”

Terhune is confident in Brunswick County’s real estate market moving forward.

“Remember the numbers,” he said. “There are 10,000 to 15,000 retirees a day. They all want to get the heck out (of the north). Brunswick County will grow. Think about it: This week, they’re getting ready for this colossal snowstorm. When they retire, they want out.

“Can you imagine how many people up there are on the Internet this week looking for places to retire? That’s where Brunswick County will benefit. Southern Realtors love snow. We love lots of snow as long as it falls up north. That serves as the catalyst for people making the decision to move.”

The economic downturn served as a learning tool for lots of people in Brunswick County, Terhune said.

“I’m glad we’re getting back to those times when the economy is trending in the right direction,” he said. “American learned a lesson. We removed the word ‘risk’ from real estate. We want stable, financially sound communities. Thank goodness they exist in Brunswick County today.”

Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or shickman@brunswickbeacon.com.

Brewery Boom Benefits More Than Just The Breweries

BY SHERRI PARRISH CRAWFORD, WILMINGTONBIZ.COM
breweries

Palate, a retail shop that will sell craft beer and feature a beer growler filling station, is being prepped to open soon on North Fourth St. Owners are hoping to capitalize on the recent uptick in local brewery activity. (Photo by Chris Brehmer)

With a number of breweries popping up in and around the Port City, it’s no secret that beer is big business. But what you may not know is that area entrepreneurs are starting to cash in on the local brewery boom in more ways than one, without brewing a thing.

Among them is the duo behind the new Port City Brew Bus, which offers an interactive tour of local breweries. Owners Mark Mueller and Jeremy Tomlinson saw the success of similar tours offered in brewery-rich cities, such as Asheville, and decided to start one in Wilmington.

Already small business owners, it was their entrepreneurial drive and passion for craft beer that made the business idea viable. As advocates and promoters of such, the decision to showcase the local craft beer community, for them, was an easy one.

“We really wanted to get people to understand that we have really creative people here and you can get some world-class beer in Wilmington,” Tomlinson said. “And this is different than just going to the downtown bar scene. You see and learn how the beer is made.”

According to the bus tour’s website (www.portcitybrewbus.com), the beer industry contributed $2.9 billion to the state’s economy in 2012, plus nearly 38,000 jobs. For Mueller and Tomlinson, launching Port City Brew Bus lets them grab a piece of the pie in – and help further – the growing industry they enjoy and admire.

(READ MORE)

“We asked ourselves, ‘What can we do to get involved in this industry?’” Tomlinson said. “We enjoy the craft beer community. There’s a lot of collaboration together, and [with this] we can increase awareness and education [of the craft beer community].”

The bus tours, which kicked off on Black Friday, allow patrons to not only sample the styles of beer created at the local brewpubs but also meet the people who make them. What’s more, Tomlinson explained that tour goers can glean insight into each brewery’s unique fermenting process.

Then, there’s the soon-to-open growler filling station and bottle shop Palate.

Located in the Brooklyn Arts District at 1007 N. Fourth St., the owners of Palate say the surge in Wilmington – and statewide – micro-breweries shows that a strong and abundant customer base is there and ripe for the picking.

“We are very excited at the new microbreweries and nanobreweries opening in town and even right down the street from us, like Flytrap [Brewing], because it shows that Wilmington has an audience for what we are doing and people are passionate about the craft,” Palate co-owner Josh Wittman said. “I’ve heard several sound bites that say that North Carolina has the ninth-most breweries of the 50 states, and that shows there’s support for it from consumers and the legislation.”

While the retail shop will feature craft beer and wine, with “a great selection of local liquid,” Wittman said, it’s those growlers that tie Palate into the secondary boon from the local brewpubs.

For local breweries that don’t have their beers available by the bottle, growlers can be filled with those drafts, hence making them available “to go.” Therefore, shops like Palate, can profit by selling the local brews, themselves.

Wittman, a Raleigh-based entrepreneur, likens the concept behind Palate to the small, independent record stores, where a more personal relationship is established with customers and recommendations can be made according to one’s taste. It’s that back-to-basics philosophy that’s also spurred Wittman and his business partners – wife Fran and Wimington’s Kevin Rhodes – to get in on the local beer action.

“People are rebelling against the corporate food and beer manufacturers,” Wittman said. “‘Shop local, eat local’ isn’t just a catch phrase, it’s a national movement; it’s becoming a lifestyle.”

Another business making bank on the breweries’ coattails is The Veggie Wagon. While the Carolina Beach store specializes in selling fresh, local fruits, veggies and homemade goods, it also functions as a growler filling station, with craft beers from around the state.

But it’s their distinctive Brewnola Bars that seem to set them apart. Made from the spent grains after the brewing process at Carolina Beach-based Good Hops Brewing, the bars are not only nutritious, they also reduce waste, The Veggie Wagon co-owner April Sussman explained.

“There’s a lot of waste from grains used to make beer, so we decided it was time to make a bar from our local breweries,” Sussman said. “It’s something fun and different that we’re able to offer.”

What’s more, the store’s reuse of the spent grains doesn’t end there. The business recently released a “grab and go pizza dough” also made from the grains used at Good Hops Brewing, Sussman said.

The Veggie Wagon also sells its homemade food products in some of the local breweries, further increasing the Veggie Wagon’s retail sales. According to Sussman, they’ve installed refrigerated cases inside Flytrap Brewing and Good Hops Brewing stocked with snacks, including cheeses and dips, that are available for brewery customers to purchase.

“One of the problems when you go to breweries is that there’s no food,” Sussman said. “So we’re providing options that are more healthy, for example, with no preservatives.”

The “no-food problem” that Sussman sees is also being solved by local food trucks. The mobile restaurants can be seen parked outside of the area brew houses, and are often included on the flyers from some brewery-related events.

Ogden retail beer and wine shop Fermental has gone one step further, bringing both the breweries and food trucks to them. Among Fermental’s repertoire is holding weekly events that often highlight local and state breweries and their beers.
Recently, the shop at 7250 Market St. teamed-up with Wilmington’s Broomtail Craft Brewery for an event, with Broomtail’s crafting crew and brews on site at Fermental. Patrons could sample and then buy the Wilmington brewery’s beers that were on tap at the fete.

Local restaurant Catch’s food truck participated in the Fermental affair, offering eats available for purchase. Other food trucks that have caught the brewery business
bug include Vittles, which has sold its food wares at Flytrap Brewing, according to the brewery’s Facebook page.

More breweries are slated to open in Wilmington, including Ironclad Brewery, in 2015. With that, the number of businesses harnessing the resulting potential profit power will likely continue to grow.

5 Real Estate Predictions for 2015

Source: DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2014

Expect the home-purchase market to strengthen along with the economy in 2015, according to Freddie Mac’s U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for November.

“The good news for 2015 is that the U.S. economy appears well-poised to sustain about a 3 percent growth rate in 2015 — only the second year in the past decade with growth at that pace or better,” says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Governmental fiscal drag has turned into fiscal stimulus; lower energy costs support consumer spending and business investment; further easing of credit conditions for business and real estate lending support commerce and development; and consumers are more upbeat and businesses are more confident, all of which portend faster economic growth in 2015. And with that, the economy will produce more and better-paying jobs, providing the financial wherewithal to support household formations and housing activity.”

Freddie Mac economists have made the following projections in housing for the new year:

  1. Mortgage rates: Interest rates will likely be on the rise next year. In recent weeks, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has dipped below 4 percent. But by next year, Freddie projects mortgage rates to average 4.6 percent and inch up to 5 percent by the end of the year. (Read More…)
  2. Home prices: By the time 2014 wraps up, home appreciation will likely have slowed to 4.5 percent this year from 9.3 percent last year. Appreciation is expected to drop further to an average 3 percent in 2015. “Continued house-price appreciation and rising mortgage rates will dampen affordability for home buyers,” according to Freddie economists. “Historically speaking, that’s moving from ‘very high’ levels of affordability to ‘high’ levels of affordability.”
  3. Housing starts: Homebuilding is expected to ramp up in the new year, projected to rise by 20 percent from this year. That will likely help total home sales to climb by about 5 percent, reaching the best sales pace in eight years.
  4. Single-family originations: Mortgage originations of single-family homes will likely slip by an additional 8 percent, which can be attributed to a steep drop in refinancing volume. Refinancings are expected to make up only 23 percent of originations in 2015; they had been making up more than half in recent years.
  5. Multi-family mortgage originations: Mortgage originations for the multi-family sector have surged about 60 percent between 2011 and 2014. Increases are expected to continue in 2015, projected to rise about 14 percent.

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Unemployment Falls Locally In September – Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender County

In September, unemployment rates fell in Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender, as they did in all but two counties in North Carolina, according to the N.C. Division of Labor and Economic Analysis.

The September county-by-county data, released Wednesday, show that unemployment in Brunswick County was at 6.6 percent, down from 7.3 percent in August and from 7.5 percent in September 2013.

New Hanover registered… 5.6 percent unemployment in September, dropping from 6.5 percent in August and 7.1 percent in September 2013.

Pender County’s September unemployment was at 6.5 percent, down one percentage point from August’s 7.5 percent rate, and down significantly from September 2013’s rate of 8.3 percent.

Other highlights of the monthly report include:

Currituck and Chatham counties were tied for the state’s lowest unemployment, at 4.2 percent. Highest unemployment is found in mountainous Graham County, which has a rate of 12.2 percent. Scotland County is next highest, with 11.3 percent.

Of North Carolina’s 14 Metropolitan Statistical Areas, the Wilmington area, with a September area unemployment rate of 6.0 percent, had the sixth-lowest level, behind Asheville (4.6 percent), Durham-Chapel Hill (4.9 percent), Raleigh-Cary (5.0 percent), Winston-Salem (5.6 percent) and Burlington (5.9 percent).

Currently, North Carolina still considers the Wilmington MSA as including Brunswick County, although the federal government has reassigned Brunswick County to the Myrtle Beach MSA.

The North Carolina MSA with the highest unemployment was Rocky Mount, at 8.8 percent in September.

Year over year, the Wilmington area showed increased employment in every sector except for manufacturing, in which employment decreased 4.1 percent. The sector showing strongest growth was leisure and hospitality, at 7.5 percent growth. Logging and construction was second, with 3.7 percent growth.

Designing Your Dream Home

For those considering Brunswick County as a place to possibly retire to, one should be aware that our market for homes here is vastly different than what you have probably ever experienced before. It’s estimated that 80-85% of those who do settle in Coastal North Carolina wind up building their own home. Why? Because that is really the only way to truly get what you want.

So if you are a statistic in the vast majority, you really have some very important steps ahead of you in order to find your little slice of heaven here:

  • Find the area that best suits your needs (as in The Martini Theory
  • Find the Community/Plantation that matches your budget and activities
  • Find the Home (to be built) that meets your daily requirements
    • Find a Homesite to build your Dream Home on

Back in the 1990s and early to mid 2000s, anyone who wanted a custom home bought a homesite, found an architect/custom home designer, interviewed various builders and bid out their job. Today that probably represents 30% of the market as many local builders are building model homes again and 70% of those heading south are simply choosing an existing floor plan and modifying it to their liking. This accomplishes several things for the buyer:

  • The future owners can see the house before it is built. This alleviates the stress of making mistakes
  • This helps control costs as you are working from a base price for the home plus all the add ons.

The largest drawback to going in this direction is… that you could live in the same house as every 4th home on your street – thereby eliminating your signature on your Dream Home. The solution is designing your own home or making significant changes to an existing plan whereby the home would not be confused with the original plan.

If you venture in the direction of a Custom Built Home, you first start with a homesite. Purchasing a homesite is an art, if not a science, and this process should never be taken lightly as your homesite can drastically affect your lifestyle. Be sure you work with a land expert as there is much to consider:

  • Slope – the contour of your land can/will affect your drainage, cost to build, determine the style of home you can build, etc
  • Sun – knowing where the sun rises and sets is critical as a hot sun can ruin your late afternoons
  • Soil – homesites that are naturally wet can cause the owner significant water and or mold issues in the future
  • Shape/Dimensions – your home must fit comfortably on your homesite
  • Setbacks – you have to know these. Typically you cannot build within 10’ of the side of your property, 20-25’ from the front and 20-40’ from the back

So, let’s say that the below homesite is the one you have selected to build on. The dimensions are all shown and the setbacks are in place (gray shaded areas cannot be built on), so your home must be built within the white building envelope.

Build Home

As you study this plat of this homesite, there are 3 significant issues that must be taken into consideration before you consider placing a home on it.

  1. There is a small pond and nice but distant golf view available from this back left corner
  2. The back of this homesite is a Nature Preserve – so lots of privacy
  3. This part of the building envelope is the largest and offers the most room to build

Because of this information, there are a few things that the owners have determined:

  • They want to take advantage of the golf/water views
  • They want a pool but only if it is private
  • The garage will go on the right side where there is ample room

Based upon this information, designing the home is really quite simple and fun as you already have considerable information that will determine the floor plan. Yes there are a ton of details to work out, but we already know where certain rooms will be.

Build Dream Home

From the above, we add in the topography of the homesite, location of trees and the dimensions of the home, and Voila!

Build Dream Home Brunswick County

And if by chance you work with www.PlanViewDesign.com, you will be able to see the inside and outside of your home in full color 3D before you ever put a shovel in the ground. In addition, you will have tremendous input on what your Dream Home will look like as your feedback is critical to the process. This is YOUR HOME, not ours, so the more details you provide us, the more Haley from Plan View Design can incorporate into your home.

Model Home

And FYI, Plan View Design has designed homes in the following communities: Landfall, Ocean Ridge Plantation, St James, Brunswick Forest, Rivers Edge, Winding River Plantation, River Landing, Sea Trail, Brunswick Plantation, RiverSea Plantation, SeaScape at Holden Plantation, Ocean Isle Beach and more. Call Haley today for a free over the phone consultation at 910 754-9999 or Haley@PlanViewDesign.com

The Beach

Today I did something I am ashamed of that I don’t do more of. I went to the beach. I dug out a hole in the sand (no, not 6’ deep), laid my beach towel down, and took a glorious late afternoon Labor Day nap.

Funny though, just before I dozed off, I was thinking of ideas for the September Carolina Dreamin’ lead article. The more I thought about it, I looked around and realized how beautiful my surroundings were and said, “I will write about the beach”.

Growing up in northern NJ, I am glad to say that I took advantage of traveling into Manhattan on a fairly regular basis. My father’s company had season tickets to the Knicks and at age 14, he allowed me and a buddy to travel into the city to see the Knicks, Rangers, Yankees, Mets, Jets or Giants games. I also saw a handful of Broadway shows, WTC’s, Empire State Building, Schaefer Music Festival in Central Park and more. But as close as it was, I never went to see the Statue of Liberty and/or a handful of other great venues near us. Isn’t that just amazing how we can live so near to a wonderful national treasure, state park, mountain range, blue ocean or historic city but rarely take advantage of it!?

So, if you live here or somewhere near a beach and or want to live close to a beach someday, here are some random practical uses for the beach:

  • Buy white shirts and blouses along with khaki pants/shorts and have a family portrait taken
  • Go Shelling!
  • Take a nice walk with your dog or husband. Ok, leave the husband home!
  • Plan a family picnic at the beach
  • Go fishing from the pier (I do this more than golf now because I lose less golf balls fishing!)
  • Learn to paint at the beach. Grab an easel, chair and a bottle of wine!
  • Fly a kite. You don’t have to be a kid to have fun like a kid.
  • Read that book you have been meaning to read for months
  • Bring a bottle of Champagne to the beach and toast to a beautiful sunset, which you can do at Brunswick County beaches for 4-5 months per year
  • Take a nap! The pounding waves put me to sleep within 5 minutes
  • Bring the grandchildren down for a day of fun. Kids LOVE the beach
  • Practice your sand trap shots!! 🙂
  • Go Surf Casting for that big one!
  • Learn to use a Paddle Board
  • Body Surf like you did on the Jersey/NY/MA/MD shore as a kid
  • Swim!!!!!!

So, my new pledge is this: I am grateful to live so close to several beautiful beaches and vow to take advantage of them more often. How about you – got anything near you that you really should take more advantage of??

Join Rotary International

rotary

You wake up on Monday morning, go to Sam’s, Office Depot and the grocery store and are home by 10:30 am. You head to the golf course for your noon time round with the usual suspects, come home, take a dip in the community pool and then have your next door neighbors (to the right) over for dinner. Repeat 7 days a week until done.

The question that many retirees need to ask is that while retiring is fun, how many rounds of golf or tennis matches do you need to participate in before you need some outside stimulation?

Enter Rotary International.(www.Rotary.org) In 1905, four friends met in room 711 in the Unity Building in downtown Chicago. They thought it would be great if they would do business with each other and in the room was a stone mason, engineer, lawyer and a tailor. The tailor agreed to work with and promote the engineer while the lawyer promoted and worked with the stone mason. Simple business networking 101.

Within a few years, the members began to look outwards instead of inwards. They realized that while networking was an admirable result of their friendships, they also realized that they were business leaders and could help those in need in their area. The word of Rotary, albeit this was way before email, the internet, faxes and social media, began to spread across America and soon the world.

Rotary International has over 33,000 clubs in 200 countries and enjoys a global membership of over 1.2m members. In 1985, Rotary International passed a bold new rule which permitted women to join Rotary, and thank goodness because many of the clubs consist of 50% women today!

So what does this have to do with you?….

Think about it, you have a world of business and life experience that others can benefit from if you shared your talents. Rotarians are everyday people that simply want to make a difference in the town/area that they live in. Chances are you have already moved to your retirement destination and or are contemplating such a move, so this is to gently remind you that there is an interesting and vibrant world outside your gated golf community.

On a personal note, in 2002 I moved to Shallotte from the north side of Wilmington. I had spent the past 23 years living in the suburbs of Atlanta, Milwaukee, Boston and Wilmington however; it wasn’t until I joined the Rotary Club of Shallotte that I finally felt like I was part of a community. In fact the last time I felt like I was part of a town was in 1975 when I graduated from Ridgewood High School in NJ.

In an effort to appeal to both younger and older members, Rotary today is not the Rotary our fathers belonged to. For example, attendance requirements have been relaxed, meeting times are adhered to, fun is involved in every meeting, fundraisers are successful because of solid team efforts and, each club is always open to learning on different ways on how it can be of assistance to those in need.

One benefit I enjoy is that if I am traveling out of town I always take a look at where there might be a Rotary Meeting that I can attend. Over the years I have attended Rotary meetings in St. Petersburg Russia, San Francisco, Nassau Bahamas, West Palm, West Virginia and more. And when you become a Rotarian, you automatically have over 1.2 million friends around the globe – which is like really cool and especially true for those who like to travel.

Rotary clubs either have breakfast, lunch or dinner meetings. The meetings last one hour and three of the four weeks per month there is guest speaker. Generally clubs have one main annual fundraiser and support over a dozen local concerns. Clubs can range from 15 members to over 200 however; the average club has 35 members. In Brunswick County, we have four clubs:

  • Rotary Club of Leland (Friday Breakfast)
  • Rotary Club of Shallotte (Thursday lunch)
  • Rotary Club of Southport (Wednesday lunch)
  • Rotary Club of South Brunswick Isles (Sunset Beach and Ocean Isle Beach) – Friday Breakfast

From my earlier days when I was a training manager for an industrial components supplier, I learned that if the average adult does not learn new information on a regular basis, that our brains turn to mush – and we don’t want that to happen, do we?!! So when you get settled into your new community or if you already are, make good use of your talents and go to this website and find the closest Rotary International club to you. Go and visit them and if the club feels right, then don’t be afraid to join. And if the club/s don’t feel right, don’t be afraid to look up the local Lions Club, Kiwanis Club, etc.

Rotarians care about the people in the community they live in and enjoy giving back, so if this sounds like you or someone you know, go to this website today to find the Rotary International club closest or most convenient to you.

Thank you and have fun! Oh, and in case you are wondering, this is what we call our 4 Way Test:

Of all the things we say and do:

  • Is it the Truth
  • Is it Fair to All Concerned
  • Will it Build Goodwill and Better Friendships
  • Will it be Beneficial to All Concerned

South of The Border

Pedro - South of the Border

Have you ever traveled down I-95 through the Carolinas? Any chance you heard of some guy named “Pedro”?

The year was 1962 and Court & Ginny Terhune from Ridgewood, NJ piled in their 1960 Rambler with Suzy, Corky and Doug filling up the backseat. It was summertime and the family had Florida in their sights. However, along their journey they encountered multiple billboards that commandeered the concrete horizon, and they all had to do with this guy named “Pedro”.

South of the Border Car

I would love to know if my dad knew ahead of time that we would be staying at South of the Border Motel in Dillon, SC, as this was probably a good 12+ hour drive on our first day of travel to the Sunshine State. Did travel agents back then even book hotels for one night? How would my parents even know about the place? We obviously had no internet and it’s not like we had Pedro billboards in NJ, did we?

As we cruised into North Carolina, the three of us kids were hovered over our parent’s bench front seat and it was hotter than Haiti out. Luckily for us, our Rambler was one of the first cars to have Air Conditioning, and boy we sure did use it! There was a vent that popped up from the dashboard and all five of us clamored for some of that cool refreshing air. Can you imagine making that trip today in the summer without AC? Good heavens!

South of the Border - Pedro

Anyway, not sure who in the family spotted the first Pedro billboard, but once we did we all kept our eyes peeled down the highway for the next one, as we began to think of this Pedro guy as one of our friends. When we arrived, we thought we arrived in a real life made for TV paradise, as they had a restaurant on site that served Ice Cream, a large SWIMMING POOL with a diving board (remember those?) and when it got dark, Pedro lit some fireworks. For a five year old kid, what else could one want??

With such a simple marketing strategy, there probably isn’t a better known motel in America than South of Zee Border, so if by chance any of our readers have old pictures of the place that you could forward to us, we will be sure to publish those in the August edition of Carolina Dreamin’ ! PS Who knew in 1962 that the youngest kid in the backseat of that Rambler would in 1999 settle in North Carolina just 64 miles east of South of the Border?!

CLICK HERE to Read more about South of the Border History.