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Federation Staff Finally Moves Home

After nearly a year, the federation staff packs up and moves into the Coastal Education Center and Southeast Office in the historic square of Wrightsville Beach. Photo: Eugene Maloney

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — Nobody likes to move. That, at least, was the consensus of a decidedly unscientific poll taken during the N. C. Coastal
Federation’s relocation of its Southeast office on Causeway Street in Wrightsville Beach to a new home in the Historic Square, about a mile
or so away.

Asked to rate their enjoyment of the moving process in general on the venerable one to 10 scale, with 10 representing the pinnacle of
enjoyment and one being an aversion to the very thought of moving, the dozen or so folks who did the majority of the heavy lifting of
boxes, furniture and office equipment during two days last week of the actual move rated moving an average of about two.

It should be noted that Coastal Advocate Mike Giles’ rating had a way of bringing that average number down considerably. “Minus 10,”
he said, adding that his rating was less about the actual moving and more about preparing for the move and the reorganization that comes
after.

“That,” Giles said, “is about 90 percent of it.”

His office in boxes, Mike Giles crouches at his computer desk to work throughout the move-in day. Photo” Eugene Maloney

Giles
then stepped into his new office on the second floor of the remodeled Palmgren-O’Quinn house, which had been treated to a barge ride around Harbor Island last June to become the federation’s Coastal Education Center and Southeast Office. By midday Friday, Giles was in front of a makeshift computer station, crouched in front of a keyboard and monitor, working without benefit of a chair.

The movers caught a break on Thursday. By 8 a.m., a crew of female volunteers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison was making its
way to the Causeway Street office to lend a hand. They had decided to spend their spring break helping nonprofit groups rather than doing
the usual college thing in Fort Lauderdale or some other spring-break locale. The temperature stood at 47 degrees, under thinly-clouded
skies with a light, offshore wind. Not exactly beach weather, but more than comfortable for a little manual labor.

Tracy Skrabal directs a group of college students, who came during their spring break to help the federation move . Photo: Eugene Maloney

They assembled, a number of them clutching cups of coffee, around 9 a.m. and started hauling cardboard boxes down to a couple of vans and a
trailer. Over the next few hours, during which the temperature stayed relatively cool, this crew of female volunteers, along with federation staff members and the odd journalist made two trips back and forth to the new offices, hauling those same cardboard boxes up one and sometimes two flights of stairs, depositing them at room locations marked with cardboard signs taped to doorways. In the afternoon, after being treated to lunch — divided almost evenly between requests for pizza or subs — the crew painted the steps to either side of the house, which Tracy Skrabal had spent some time earlier preparing for them, lining the steps with tape. She is the manager of the federation’s Southeast office.

On Friday morning, the moving company Two Men and a Truck transferred the heavier equipment and furniture, doing so in a single trip that
left the old office bare and clean, albeit in need of a good vacuuming. By afternoon, it was done, and by Giles’ figuring, the real work of the move began. Ted Wilgis, the federation’s educator in the region, guessed that it would be about two weeks before all the moved boxes, furniture and equipment found their proper spaces and the new offices would be able to re-establish a normal working routine. Though the actual move had been delayed by about 10 days, the staff was optimistic that it could safely meet its scheduled date for the proposed Grand Opening on May 3.

For all of the headaches brought on by the actual move, the staff was visibly excited, for a variety of reasons.

“I’m thrilled about this move,” said Skrabal. “It’s been a long time coming and it’ll be good for us.”

“There’s a lot more space,” said Ted Wilgis, as he wrestled boxes from his old office to his new, larger one. “The biggest amount of
added space, both indoors and outdoors, will be for the public.

“The things we gain,” he added, “outweigh the personal pain of the move.”

All the moved boxes, furniture and equipment will find their proper spaces before the proposed Grand Opening on May 3. Photo: Eugene Maloney

Across the parking lot from the new building, about a football field away, Madeline Flagler, director of the Wrightsville Beach Museum, has been watching the progress of the move, since the house pulled up on a truck last June, and she’s almost as excited as the federation staff. The arrival of the federation in her backyard, along with its planned education center, opens the door to numerous opportunities, which, though not discussed as yet, seem likely to arise.

“It’s nothing formal yet,” she said, “but we’ve talked about the idea of collaborating on school trips, combining elements of science
and history into that experience. I’m sure more things will develop as we become actual neighbors.

“I’m excited,” Flagler added, “that there’s going to be someone here (in Historic Square), year round.”

According to Giles, there will be a ‘tourist attraction’ component to the emerging education center, which will improve on the federation’s
outreach and education objectives for residents and visitors. All of this will take place within the expanded confines of the new regional
office, allowing not only space for the federation staff to do its job, but classroom and public event space to improve on environmental
education.

About the Author

Skip Maloney

Skip Maloney is a full-time freelance writer, based in Wilmington. He writes regularly for a variety of regional and national magazines, including "Wrightsville Beach Magazine" and "City View Magazine" in Fayetteville. He is on-staff with the AZBilliards Web site, writing weekly reports on nationwide pool tournaments. He is also a frequent contributor to "Billiards Digest Magazine," "GAMES Magazine" and is a National Board Game Examiner with Examiner.com. Skip is also a lifetime theater enthusiast and was seen, most recently, in the Thalian Hall production of "Of Mice and Men."