2013 brought more change

ajames@newsobserver.comJanuary 3, 2014 

— The year just ended brought continued growth and change to Clayton. We’ve put together an overview of what happened in 2013.

Business

The number of business openings was modest, but their impact was huge. According to the town, just five businesses opened between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, but they drew crowds.

Johnston County’s first brewery, Deep River Brewing Co., opened last spring on West Main Street, drawing both locals and beer lovers from across the state.

The new destination was named Best Downtown Business by the Downtown Development Association. And its popularity prompted the Town Council to ease rules governing food trucks, which began coming to Clayton to cater to the crowds at Deep River.

Another popular destination for locals is Char-Grill, the 10-restaurant chain known for its burgers and shakes. The Clayton franchise is in the Lowes Foods shopping center on U.S. 70 Business.

One business that won’t be around much longer is Elmore Furniture Co. After 30 years in business on Main Street, the owner has decided to close its doors and is selling the building.

Community events

Once again, the community came together to help those in need. More than 100 people lined up to have their heads shaved in the annual St. Baldrick’s event, which raised more than $71,000 to research childhood cancer.

The community came together at Thanksgiving too. Serve the Need, a nonprofit based in Clayton, fed more than 1,000 people on Thanksgiving Day. Volunteers from across the county worked at the event, cooked food and donated money to make it happen.

In a loss for the Woman's Club, a storm in 2013 smashed its gazebo, a destination for weddings and other gatherings. The club is rebuilding.

Town projects

In 2013, the Clayton Law Enforcement Center was named “Best Infill Building Project” at the N.C. Main Street convention. The town’s Mosaic Community Garden won the award for “Best Outdoor Space Improvement.”

Clayton in 2013 continued to make itself a community for the arts. The Public Art Advisory Board began a sculpture trail that will continue this year, with new sculptures going up in July.

Another art project brought the installation of bright, hand-painted butterflies along the Sam’s Branch Greenway, which opened last summer off of O’Neil Street. The greenway connects to the Mountains-to-Sea trail, making it possible to bike to Raleigh.

In another sign of its commitment to active living, the town in 2013 opened the 60-acre East Clayton Community Park on Glen Laurel Road. The park boasts many firsts for the town, including Clayton’s first regulation baseball and soccer fields and the town’s first multipurpose playing field.

The park also offers a one-mile walking trail and a stone picnic pavilion with restrooms.

Clayton had an election in 2013, but there were no changes to the makeup of the Town Council. Incumbent Councilmen Michael Grannis, Art Holder and Bob Satterfield won re-election easily.

New construction

Gabriel Manor at Spring Branch, a 77-bed assisted-living center, opened on N.C. 42 West near Johnston Medical Center.

The hospital began its own building project, the construction of a 50-bed inpatient wing that will yield a full-service hospital, including maternity care and surgeries, in Clayton.

Caterpillar, which has been an economic boost to the town, expanded its facility here, opening a 55,000-square-foot research and development facility.

Two new apartment complexes began construction – The Arbors off of Front Street near Old U.S. 70 and the Apartments at Amelia Station on N.C. 42 West near Johnston Medical Center.

Finances

One way to gauge a town’s financial health is to measure its net assets, and Clayton’s assets increased $6.5 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

At year’s end, Johnston County’s unemployment rate hovered around 8 percent, down from 8.7 percent a year ago. The county’s unemployment rate is well below the state’s, which was 8.8 percent at year’s end, down from 9.6 a year ago.

Compared to the rest of Johnston County, Clayton has a high median household income. Last year, the median household income within a five-mile radius of town limits was $56,414, compared to $49,888 for all of Johnston County.

James: 919-553-7234

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