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  • Writer's picturePam Gaskill

Les Pendleton, POA Director

If you have a free hour and would like to be entertained, I know just the person you should see! POA Board Director Les Pendleton can regale you with tales of his adventures in the most enjoyable way, even including interesting local information and encounters with the rich and famous. He is a recognized storyteller, having now published 15 novels that are widely popular in our area. One is even in the process of being made into a movie. Interestingly, when I asked him about his hobbies and activities, his immediate response was SAILING. He said it is his greatest passion and he never once mentioned all of the writing he has done, even though he dedicates about four months each year to writing a new novel.

Although he says his biggest passion is sailing, I think it’s fair to say that a close second is our community, Fairfield Harbour. While living in Raleigh 30 years ago, he kept a boat in Northwest Creek Marina and fell in love with the area. His boat was his official home for a while but he has had homes here for 20 years now. He says Fairfield Harbour is not only special, it’s unique. It’s the rare place where you can keep an ocean-going sailboat in your backyard. He also mentioned the following special assets we enjoy. New Bern is in the same temperate zone at St. Augustine, Florida, as evidenced by three temperature indicators: Florida palm trees, Spanish moss, and alligators. This is because the Gulf Stream comes close to the coast. He also mentioned that this area is the best sailing in the United States year-round because of the lack of currents and no tides. There are many short weekend sails you can enjoy without going into the ocean. At its mouth, the Neuse River is the widest river in North America. He has enticed many friends to come live in Fairfield Harbour just as a result of their visits with him. People who live here often take it for granted but he insists there is nothing like it. He likes to tell people, “If you live a good life and do everything the Good Book says, if you pass away tonight you will wake up in Fairfield Harbour.” That is quite a testimony!

Twenty-five years ago, he met his wife Susanne in Raleigh and he says “She is my focus of everything—job #1—and we’ve never had one harsh word in all those years.” Wow! For several years he and Susanne ran a sunset charter on their sailboat, Two Peas. The first Two Peas was an Irwin 43, and now a 41’ Tartan Ketch. He has had 23 different sailboats over 30’ and he says Susanne has picked out the last five. Between them, they have five grown children and ten grandchildren, who are scattered across the country. There are more interesting stories there for those who have the time to delve. He says, “Home is our sanctuary” and it’s easy to see why when he is sitting in his lovely porch overlooking his boats, palm trees, and the Inner Harbour with a very contented smile on his face.

Les ran for the POA board two years ago because he said he wanted to support the current Board who have a vision for the community, and wants Fairfield Harbour to be a top drawer community. He had never been in any type of government before as he had always worked for himself. He’d owned a telephone company and construction companies, done retail, and most importantly, been a project manager for over 40 movies. As location manager, he dealt with city governments, police forces, fire fighters, power companies, departments of transportation, and even communities-at-large. He sometimes had up to 600 people working for him. He worked on $80-100 million movies and worked with major stars including Michael Keaton, Dennis Hopper, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, on movies such as “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Coming to America,” and “Blue Velvet.” He got into that line of work in an interesting way. His former father-in-law owned a large sign company in Jacksonville, NC. The art director of the movie “Cat’s Eye” wanted a big special effects sign but the owner said he didn’t have time. Les volunteered to do it in his free time and his work was a success. As a result, he was asked to talk to the producer of “Year of the Dragon” about making all of the signs for the four blocks of China Town in the movie. He ended up working for that producer for the next 25 years, only retiring in 1992 to write the “next great American novel.”

Les is now liaison to the Stormwater Committee and a member of the Enhancement Committee. He used to work with the Waterfront Committee but a large chunk of their work on bulkhead replacement will be completed by March, including Birdland Marina. The Shoreline Marina bulkhead will be completed when the new Harbour Club goes in. Part of his work with the Enhancement Committee has included the addition of all the Sabal palms (cabbage palms) around the community. Les loves the palms and says, “Nothing says resort like palm trees!” The Enhancement Committee worked out a deal to buy 40 palm trees per order, with 20 going to the POA and the other 20 to individual owners at the reasonable cost of $330 per tree, installed. Names are now being collected for an additional order if you are interested. The Enhancement Committee has also been responsible for all of the new signage in the community. An indicator of the success of some of these projects is the rise in property values.

His work with the Stormwater Committee has a serendipitous twist. He says we are very fortunate to have two extremely competent people on the committee, including Steve Steinbeck and Ray Redness. Ray is a lifelong surveyor and has surveyed thousands of dollars worth of land free of charge in this community. Steve has a reputation as ‘the godfather of all wastewater for the state of North Carolina,’ having written most of the NC laws in regards to wastewater. It just happens that Steve was Les’s roommate at Campbell University where they both majored in geology! Steve was coming to New Bern to speak at the Civic Center right before Florence. He met a mutual friend of Les’s who told him Les lived here, Steve’s car broke down, they visited Les who twisted his arm, and they subsequently moved in. Our community is blessed to have such experts serving on this important committee.

Les made the statement that our community is being run right now on the same dollars as it was 20 years ago. Why? We used to pay $450 dues plus a $750 amenities fee. The amenities fee went away so the dues had to be increased but they are still less than the $1200 we paid 20 years ago. As POA attorney Hope Carmichael stated at the Annual Meeting, our dues are among the lowest of any properties of Fairfield Harbour’s size.

Les is proud of the fact that the new Harbour Club will be started on his watch. He says the POA tries hard to be transparent, although they are sometimes criticized for not doing so. Reports come out regularly in the Community Manager’s Weekly Report, emails, and the Beacon. If you haven’t signed up for these communications, you should do so. If you have questions about what is going on, you can call Jennifer at the POA Office and ask to attend a Board Meeting. Better yet, volunteer for a committee that uses your expertise. Make yourself a part of this amazing community and watch as our property values continue to rise.

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