by Simon Gonzalez
December 2017

Wrightsville Clerk Honored By State and Town

Wrightsville Beach town clerk Sylvia Holleman received the highest possible honor from her peers in August, when the North Carolina Association of Municipal Clerks awarded her as Clerk of the Year for 2017.

The town followed suit on Nov. 3, recognizing Holleman for her award and her 26 years of service with a live oak tree dedication ceremony at Wrightsville Beach Park.

In granting the award, the state association noted some of Holleman's accomplishments that go beyond her official duties:

"Sylvia coordinated a local Town Hall Day in Wrightsville Beach and invited citizens to not only meet their local officials, but town employees and local businesses. She also created a community cookbook with recipes from town employees. Sylvia has been a steady force for local baseball teams keeping baseball scorebooks since 1999 for both school and travel teams."

Holleman has served the past 16 years as town clerk. She has worked with eight mayors, six town managers, two interim town managers and numerous board members.

"I enjoy just about everything about being a clerk," she says. "I don't care about being in front of anybody, I just want to make sure everyone else is ready."

-- Simon Gonzalez

Painting the Town

Twenty-one artists participated in the Plein Air at Wrightsville Beach event Oct. 26-28, scattering throughout the community with their easels, canvases, paints and brushes to capture scenes around town. They painted still lifes, seascapes, landscapes and beach buildings, working in watercolors, oils, acrylics and pastels.

This was the fourth year for the event, sponsored by the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History. It has become a popular gathering for local artists.

"We usually have a few new ones, but it's primarily artists who have painted with us in the past," says Madeline Flagler, Wrightsville Beach Museumexecutive director. "It's always such a positive event. They are excited to get out."

The highlight of the final day is the "wet paint sale," where the just-created works are available to the public. The artists set the price for each piece, and donate 30 percent of the proceeds to the museum.

Paintings that weren't sold are available at the museum, at prices ranging from about $75-$300.

"Most of the paintings we'll have up through the end of December," Flagler says. "You can find paintings of seaside scenes lots of places, but these, you know are Wrightsville Beach."

-- Simon Gonzalez

Catching a Big Wave

Mason Barnes, who grew up surfing the small waves off Wrightsville Beach, dreams of being the best big wave surfer in the world. He can take a huge step toward making that happen, thanks to the help of 3,500 of his friends.

Barnes, the son of Reggie and Kelly Barnes, is an alternate for the Nelscott Reef Pro-Am, held off the Oregon coast. The top pros get in via invitation. Organizers like to have a large pool of alternates ready to replace surfers who can't compete. This year they held an online contest for the 15 available spots. With a big assistance from get-out-the-vote appeals from the Wrightsville Beach surfing community, Barnes finished third with 3,502.

"These contests only invite the top 20 or so best people in the world, so they are super hard to get into," says Barnes, who moved to California three years ago to become a professional surfer. "Even being an alternate is a blessing. If I get in and do good, it will help my career immensely."

The one-day event could be held anytime between Oct. 1 and March 31. Because conditions have to be just right to produce the massive waves, organizers keep an eye on the weather and surf. When the conditions are optimal the event is called on a three-day notice.

"In a normal contest, the waves are 2-5 feet. In a big wave, it's 40-60 feet," Barnes says. "It's a completely different sport. You want to get the wave and finish the wave without falling. You are not worried about performance. It's getting to the end and surviving."

-- Simon Gonzalez


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