Big growth can't suppress Pembroke's small town spirit

PEMBROKE, NC (WMBF) These days, you could argue the place to be in Robeson County is Pembroke.

As the university has grown, so has the town. WMBF News Reporter Brandon Herring spent some quality time in beautiful town to hear what's changed and what's stayed the same, over the years.

Pembroke is still a small town, there's no doubt about that. Many people say that's just fine. They're happy with the growth, but there's obviously still a community feel to go along with the progress.

To get a good feel for Pembroke, a stop at Linda's Restaurant is a good place to start.

"When you come in Linda's you got to talk to people," said Pembroke native, Vicki Lowry.

It's the kind of place where native likes Vicki come to socialize and not even have a bite to eat, where ladies don't mind taking a moment to talk about each other's outfits, and where people are even comfortable enough to talk about their love lives.

"I want you to help me find a girlfriend. I'll help you find a boyfriend. You got a boy" That's some of the typical conversation you may find at Linda's Restaurant, said native Vicki Lowry.

"There's a lot of people in this town that have lived here many years that were concerned about having a good town, having a nice town, having what we needed here in the town," Lowry said.

And that's helped Pembroke grow along with the university.

"I don't know who brought who along, but in the last years, they've brought us along," Lowry said.  "This was a wheat field, and we had a little path where I came through here going to a little ol' store. All this was just a field."

Pembroke Mayor Pro Temp Larry Brooks has certainly seen a lot of changes over the years. He grew up here and has been on Pembroke's City Council for 34 years.

"Pembroke in my opinion is the fasted growing, most progressive town in Robeson County," Mayor Brooks said.

This little community split by a railroad track now has several chain retail stores and fast food restaurants, even a national hotel chain and new health facilities and park space.

And there's also a bit more traffic these days.

"As a friend of mine from Fairmont told me one day, Larry, we'd love to have your traffic problem down here in Fairmont," Mayor Brooks laughed.

So far the growth hasn't been too fast for the town to handle, and native Vicki Lowry says it hasn't been too much either.

"It's a comfortable town. It's town that I'm happy in," Lowry said.

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