Leland was not incorporated until 1989, although it's been known as Leland for much longer than that. WWAY met several life-long residents who have watched the town grow over the years. One couple in particular has a special connection to Leland. J.R. and Shirley Heath have lived in their Leland home since 1965. Mr. Heath said "It was a pretty quiet little town, really. It wasn't very active, not much going on around here." But, their story here starts long before that. Mrs. Heath was born and raised right next door, and fondly looks back on countless childhood memories. "We had some good times here. We used to have a billy goat we'd ride around the house on," said Mrs. Heath. "We just had a good time. We felt free." J.R. and Shirley were married in a church just a few miles away. The couple is a Leland legacy. In the 1890's the town was named after Shirley's uncle, Leland Adams. Needless to say, this isn't the Leland they once knew. Today it's the booming gateway to Brunswick County. "There's been so many changes it's hard to say in that length of time. There's been a number of changes," said Mr. Heath. "It's a lot more congested as far as traffic's concerned now." So congested, the Department of Transportation has funds set aside to widen Village Road from a two lane road to a four lane highway. "If my father could come back he would never believe it," said Mrs. Heath. The Heaths aren't the only loyal Lelanders. Anne Mitchell was born and raised here and says she's glad to see the growth. "You couldn't ask for a better place to live," said Mitchell. "If you went away and came back, like five years ago, and came back, you would not recognize it. I mean, the progress is beautiful, I love it." With a growing population of about 10,000, Mitchell welcomes the movement of migrating people. "It's bringing in a lot of cultural groups, you know, and you're being exposed to a lot of different things that you hadn't been exposed to before," said Mitchell. "There's a lot more to do here in the Leland area now that in years past," said Mr. Heath. Life in Leland may be busier than it was in the past, but for the Heaths, it is home. "I don't have any desire to move anywhere else," said Mrs. Heath.
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