New In Town

Neighbors, Small Businesses, Schools and More to Discover

Hey y’all.

We’re new here.

And as it turns out, many of you are, too. People and businesses are arriving in southern Wake every day. Let’s meet some of them.

Randy Harrington

Town Manager, Town of Holly Springs

Moving from chief financial officer of the City of Charlotte to town manager in Holly Springs might not seem like a linear climb up the corporate ladder, but for Randy Harrington it was an opportunity he’d been waiting for.

Fostering economic development, is an exciting challenge before town manager Randy Harrington. “There is an opportunity for us to really create something new and special that will bring the community into the downtown. I think it’s really important to have a downtown core that is a focal point.”

“My goal ever since being in high school was to be a town manager,” says Harrington. “There are some job descriptions that just speak to you. This one grabbed me. I felt really excited about what the opportunities were for the town … and I felt like I was the right fit for that.”

Harrington, who took office last August, brings with him a background in public administration, financial services, budgeting, hospitality and tourism. Even though he left North Carolina’s largest city for one of it’s small — and most charming — towns, his experience still translates.

“There are very similar issues around transportation, growth pressures and public safety. Those are all similar issues, just on a different scale,” he says. “I’m not going to bring Charlotte to Holly Springs, but I am going to bring my experiences.”

Harrington, a father of three, grew up in a small town in Nebraska as a self-proclaimed “government geek.” With parents that were both civically engaged, Harrington was “hard wired for government service.”

“I can relate to small town lifestyle. There is something unique about small town characteristics and qualities.”

“What really grabbed me about Holly Springs is that it’s a community with a lot of momentum. Momentum means so much, whether it’s business or sports, you want momentum. This is a town that is attractive, there are people moving here, it’s a place people want to be,” he says.

With nearly 4,000 percent growth over the last 28 years (from 908 residents in 1990 to 36,973 in 2018), planning for and managing the town’s commercial and residential boom is an important issue before all of town government, including Harrington.

“With Holly Springs we’ve got this urban growth pressure. How do we manage it in a way that retains small town values and qualities and characteristics? That’s one of the biggest challenges before the mayor and council right now,” he says.

Big picture items like developing a strategic plan, updating the long-range land use plan and fostering downtown economic development are all top priorities for Harrington.

“These will chart how Holly Springs will look for the next 10-15 years. What’s most important? What’s the vision for what we are as a community? How do we guide the types of businesses and the mix of business and residential?

“For me the future of Holly Springs is really rooted in where the mayor and council want to take the community. My role as the town manager is to help them by executing the vision and managing the organization,” Harrington says.

Bella Mei Boutique

There is always a reason to pop into Bella Mei, conveniently located in downtown Varina. “We get multiple deliveries a week; there are always new items to see,” says boutique owner Dawn Hill.

Stretchy and soft. Those are the two most important things to have in jeans,” says Dawn Hill.

Yes girl, same. “And a high waist is great, too.”


It’s like she’s speaking for every mom in Wake County. Every woman even. And that’s exactly her intention.

“The most rewarding thing about (the boutique) is that everybody can come in; it doesn’t matter what age you are; it doesn’t matter what size. Anybody can come in here and find something they love.”

Along with her partners Jill Lane and Jennifer Cranston, Hill is the owner of Bella Mei Boutique in downtown Varina. Open about six months in Varina Station, Hill couldn’t be happier. She is next to Pints Ice Cream, after all.

“Foot traffic is good. It’s a busy area. I love all my neighbors here. Even down to the customers, everyone is just so friendly,” she says. “It makes me excited to come to work every day.”

Hill and her partners set out to create a boutique where women could shop for clothing and accessories at affordable prices and not feel guilty about spending money on themselves.

They have developed a loyal following with repeat customers and a Facebook group that takes pre-orders before the apparel even hits the shelves.

“That’s what’s cool about having a small town, small store. You get that really close-knit relationship with your customers,” says Hill.

Hill regularly messages back and forth with her loyal shoppers gauging interest in an item, taking order requests and offering suggestions of pieces she knows her followers will love.

“I see customers get so happy when they put something on. It makes me happy to make someone else’s day.”

Bella Mei Boutique

514 Broad Street, Fuquay-Varina
(919) 892-3222

Owners: Jill Lane, Jennifer Cranston and Dawn Hill

Open Since: Summer 2018

You’ll Find: Women’s clothing and accessories priced from $10 to $60

Buckhorn Creek Elementary School

With two major hurricanes within weeks of each other, the 2018-2019 school year opening was tougher than most. But you wouldn’t know it at Buckhorn Creek Elementary School.

“The community: the parents, students and especially the staff, have done a miraculous job, far more than anything I expected, in opening a new school. It is amazing to me to walk through and see what is already going on to shift the lives of students.”

Buckhorn Creek Elementary School Principal Daniel Simons works with kindergartener, Ellie Buswell. Buckhorn Creek opened it’s doors for the 2018-2019 school year.

That’s Daniel Simons, principal of the brand new elementary school serving Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina. Simons came to Buckhorn Creek from West Lake Elementary School in Apex with more than 15 years of experience in education.

“What’s exciting about opening a new school is being able to build a sense of community. To be able to create something different and that would allow our children to bring their own uniqueness to our school,” Simons says.

Before the school year, Simons met with parents and students slated to attend Buckhorn Creek and asked them what they wanted most in their school.

Location: 5651 Honeycutt Road, Holly Springs

Principal: Daniel Simons

Enrollment: 570 students (up from 540 at the start of the school year)

Mascot: Buccaneers

Motto: Unlocking the treasure in every child.

“We were able to fold all of that information into the creation of our school,” says Simons. “I think that really set the tone for learning, and I think that’s an opportunity you don’t necessarily get in established schools.”

Simons heard from parents and students an overwhelming desire for a place to feel loved and safe. “Safe is not just a security thing, but safe in taking risks and safe in learning.”

Buckhorn Creek features facility innovations that create a new kind of education atmosphere.

“Every hallway has an open commons area. The walls in the classrooms open up to the commons. They allow for collaboration and for the class to spill out of the classroom into the hallways,” says Simons. “Kids are more in control of their learning because they are deciding where they want to do it.”

Fourth-grader Mason Graf sits in a window bench with Prinicpal Daniel Simons, one example of the unique learning environment in the new school. Classrooms at Buckhorn Creek also have retractable walls that open to a common area in each grade level.

Like lying in the window bench or sitting on a sofa with a friend, for example. Buckhorn Creek also has an outdoor classroom space with a built in blackboard.

“We recognize that learning might not be easy for every child,” Simons says. “We have to find the treasure in every child, and it’s different in everyone. We have desks that kids can stand at, we have chairs that they can lay in, we have all kinds of things that might unlock or shift how their learning occurs.”

Simons admits the biggest challenge of opening a new school is keeping up with all the firsts: first day of school, first PTA events, first of each holiday.

“What are our expectations, what do we believe? What do we want our culture and our history to be? Once you do it once, it’s set forever,” says Simons. “And in all of those things, making sure we are honoring parents, teachers and students.”

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