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Cape Fear Pride 2008 - Burgaw

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Today kicks off two weeks of Cape Fear Pride. Each day we will be highlighting different towns in our area. Today, the spotlight is on Burgaw. When you picture a small southern town, it probably looks something like Burgaw. An old railroad town, built around a historic courthouse. Burgaw was incorporated in 1879, and its quiet charm has been one of its defining characteristics ever since. Mike Taylor, librarian and member of the Pender County Historical Society, said, "Everybody knows one another. Small town, you may call it a Mayberry in the best sense of the word." Vernon Harrell of Harrell's Department Store said, "I know that there are other places in the world that have the comfort level of Burgaw, but I haven't found them just yet." But that could be changing. Vernon Harrell's family owns town staple Harrell's Department Store, which his great grandfather opened in 1903. In the past few decades, Harrell says the town has grown like never before. "Well, obviously it's busier. There are more people here in Burgaw than there were at that time, and obviously more strangers as far as people that I knew," said Harrell. Thirty years ago the population here in Burgaw was about 1500. Now it's about 4000. And in 10 years, town officials say that number will double. With growth comes traffic. Town mayor Pete Cowan says the town is working with the DOT to expand it's roadways. The question now is how to retain small town charm as the town gets bigger. "I don't think it will affect the town's character at all. Obviously I think it will bring a bit more retail," said Cowan. Mayor Cowan says growth is a good thing. In addition to new residents, Cowan and other town officials are working to bring in more tourists, which Cowan says will help boost the local economy. Of course, that is something people like the Harrell's would also like to see -- as long as it's properly executed. Mayor Cowan says one way the town is maintaining it's character is refurbishing it's historic buildings.

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