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New license plate agency tops news for Spring Hope

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A new license plate agency and a new town board member topped the news for Spring Hope in 2019.

Political newcomer Prudence Wilkins took her seat on the town board after receiving 64 votes, or 28.44% of ballots cast, in November’s municipal election.

Wilkins replaced two-term Commissioner Nancy Walker, who received 55 votes, or 24.44%.

“We have already had new businesses come here, so we are starting that growth we need as a town, but we need to continue that growth, bring more businesses, more people purchasing and building homes here, this town can be a staple in North Carolina, a small town with big appeal,” Wilkins said after the election.

In April, a N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles license plate agency opened its doors in Spring Hope. The agency is managed by Timothy Johnson, former mayor and town manager of Bailey.

Under contract with the DMV, the agency offers vehicle registration services, title transactions, license plate renewals and duplicate registrations.

The Spring Hope license plate agency is located at 123 S. Ash St. and is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, except for state holidays. The agency’s phone number is 252-291-2073.

In October, authorities unearthed from a shallow grave the body of a woman who had been missing for 15 years. The grisly discovery of the body behind a house on Wiley Road just outside Spring Hope led to the arrest of Kimberly Hancock, 49, on a charge of first-degree murder in the 2004 death of her sister-in-law, 29-year-old Deborah Elaine Deans.

Hancock killed her father in 1989. At 18, Hancock shot her father in the face with a .25-caliber pistol while he slept on the family’s sofa. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a six-year suspended sentence since her father had been abusive, according to court records.

Still missing is Hancock’s brother, Roger Wade Ayscue, who has not been seen in a decade. Ayscue disappeared from Castalia in 2009.

The big break in the case came from a tip provided to the Fighting Crime News and Who’s Wanted website and Facebook page.

In more upbeat news, Spring Hope resident Danny Vester captured a state record with his scale-tipping pumpkin. Picking up first place at the N.C. State Fair, Vester’s pumpkin set a record at 1,506½ pounds.

Vester said he started growing monster-sized pumpkins a few years ago as a way to drum up attention for the annual Spring Hope National Pumpkin Festival.

Vester was raised on a farm, but he learned about growing large pumpkins online.

In August, an off-duty deputy with the Nash County Sheriff’s Office helped a family save its dog from a well.

Driving home, Deputy Brooks Heath spotted 11-year-old Trey Snow running down the road. Brooks stopped to help and ended up pulling the boy’s puppy named Riley from a well.

It wasn’t the only time in 2019 a Nash County deputy was singled out for life-saving community service.

In June while vacationing at Emerald Isle, Capt. Allen Wilson pulled a girl he didn’t know to shore as she struggled with strong ocean currents.

“We’ve got great deputies,” Sheriff Keith Stone said at the time. “I’m proud of the job they do. Our core values are honor, compassion and diligence. These guys and gals live it every day.”

Citing early graveyard flower removal and an extended wait time for a sewer hookup, Spring Hope residents voiced displeasure with Envirolink, the company that handles the town’s public works, during an October town meeting. Spring Hope also followed Bailey in terminating a contract with Envirolink to prepare a study on the town wastewater system. Envirolink failed to meet a state deadline to produce the study, so Bailey leaders requested an extension, took Envirolink off the project and hired Mack Gay Associates to complete the research.

Due to weather and use, the playground equipment at Spring Hope Community Park wore out faster than expected and was removed. Town officials worked with county parks and recreation officials to select new equipments which is expected to be installed soon.

In January, town commissioners approved a local match for a state grant to expand sidewalks in strategic, high traffic areas around the elementary school and shopping center.

Spring Hope didn’t raise its property tax rate or utility bills as part of its annual budget approved in June.

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