Beach Town in a Forest

Beach Town in a Forest
Beach Town in a Forest, Pine Knoll Shores located in Carteret County on North Carolina's Crysal Coast. Photo compliments of Bill Flexman and Dave Prutzman

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Mayor Ken Haller: 1975-1980 and 1983-1985

This is the second in a series of posts on Pine Knoll Shores Mayors. Like Jim Redfield, Ken Haller was selected by the Board of Commissioners to serve as mayor. Unlike Jim Redfield, he would serve multiple terms.

Mayor Ken Haller—1975-1980 and 1983-1985

Hugh Kenneth Haller

In November 1975, Pine Knoll Shores elected Art Browne, Ken Haller, Rudy McBride, Hayes McCulley, James Ramsey and Mary Katherine Smith as commissioners. A referendum on the ballot gave the second Board of Commissioners the ability to exceed what had been a $10,000 limit on operational and maintenance expenditures, but not on capital expenditures. There were 260 eligible voters, and 208 voted. On November 13, newly elected commissioners, meeting at Bogue Banks Country Club, selected Ken Haller as mayor.

A brief biography of candidates published in the October 1975 Shoreline and written by Ken’s wife, Newell Haller, provided the following:
KEN HALLER, Oakleaf Drive, was born in Frederick Maryland, 69 years ago. He received his college degree (Phi Beta Kappa) from Johns Hopkins University and graduated from Harvard Law School. He first practiced for some 10 years in association with a large law firm in Buffalo, New York, but spent the war years on the staff of the General Counsel of the War Production Board in Washington, D.C. With the end of the War, he and others formed a partnership in which he practiced corporate law in New York City for over twenty-five years. Since retirement five years ago, he served as Chairman of the Citizens Committee responsible for the incorporation of Pine Knoll Shores as a town, and he drew its charter. He also served on the original Planning Board and on the Board of Adjustment. Ken and former Newell Maverick were married in 1938. They have two daughters and two sons (Judy, Sue, Kenny and Hugh) and six grandchildren. Ken likes nothing better than casting in the Sound for live bait and then fishing in the surf at dawn the next morning.  

At the time, Ken and Newell Haller were living in a house they had built in 1972 on Oakleaf Drive where Alice Hoffman's house had once stood.  In building a new home on the site, they retained remnants of Alice’s original house—including the foundation and cement stairs on the sound side of the property.

This Oakleaf property was later sold to the MacDonalds when Ken and Newell Haller built another home on Walnut Circle.

Susan Phillips took the above photos of the Hallers' Oakleaf home from a Haller family album provided by Ken and Newell's daughter Sue Haller Balmat.

Like Jim Redfield, Ken Haller was a member of PKA, which in 1975 shared its representation of the largest voting block in Pine Knoll Shores with Pine Knoll Shores Corporation (PIKSCO). We also learn from the Shoreline that before becoming mayor, Ken Haller was part of a group studying future growth of new subdivisions. 

During Haller’s first term in office, the Town of Pine Knoll Shores gained recognition in the county. In the summer of 1976, Mayor Haller became the official representative of Carteret municipalities on the Neuse River Council of Governments.

His first term also included reworking zoning ordinances and establishing a Community Appearance Commission, which would have long-term influence on the preservation of trees and lead to Pine Knoll Shores becoming a “Tree City.” He led the Board of Commissioners in making recommendations to erect a new town hall and to acquire new fire-fighting and rescue equipment—both of which required voters to pass a referendum, which they did. The referendum was the town’s first request for authority to issue bonds and raise taxes. 

This newspaper clipping shows Mayor Haller and Commissioner Bill Uebele in front of him trying out the new firefighting equipment. Susan Phillips found the photo in a Haller family album provided by Sue Haller Balmat.

According to statistics presented by Mayor Haller in 1977, Pine Knoll Shores had the lowest tax rate and one of the highest real property values in the county. It also had the largest population on Bogue Banks and the smallest budget. All of which probably helped support the bond and tax proposals.

Among the more localized issues at the time were requirements for bulk heading and for managing the problem of silting in the canals. But, whether the concerns were small or large, Mayor Haller seemed to take a hands-on approach in working with citizens and the Board of Commissioners.

Volunteerism was always important in Pine Knoll Shores, before and after incorporation. Mayor Haller, like Jim Redfield, was himself an active volunteer. To help solve a litter problem, Mayor Haller led by example. The July 1976 Shoreline named him “scavenger-in-chief” because he was picking up so many discarded cans and bottles, “approximately 200 a month”!

Neighbors helping neighbors as a way of life was established early on. One such group was Civil Preparedness, a volunteer organization Mayor Haller would call into action when storms threatened.

Unlike Jim Redfield, Ken Haller served multiple terms as mayor from 1975 to 1980 and from 1983 to 1985. He resigned in April 1980 for health reasons, and a Carteret News-Times’ article announcing his resignation also cited the all-consuming nature of the job done without monetary compensation but with “all the criticism in which anyone wants to indulge.” Not everyone in town was ungrateful, however, and declaring a “Ken Haller Day” on May 4, 1980, was one way a group of Pine Knoll Shores’ citizens showed their gratitude.

Wayne Cleveland, who had been mayor-pro-tem, became mayor to serve out Haller’s third term and was in 1982 selected for a full term. When Cleveland died in office in the fall of 1983, Ken Haller agreed to serve as mayor again, which he did for almost two additional years. He resigned after writing a letter in support of the Roosevelt Interests’ final plan for the town center. His last few months in office had to be stressful, and he was soon to turn 80. 

As mayor, Ken Haller supported open meetings. As stated in a February 1985 Shoreline, he “...welcomed all citizens to attend meetings and offer suggestions and criticisms.” The tug-of-war between pro-development and pro-status quo factions often played out at his meetings. 

Among the frustrated efforts dragging on for years were proposals for a third bridge. Haller joined a delegation to Raleigh to petition the Department of Transportation to build a third bridge to Bogue Banks. (Today’s Pine Knoll Blvd. was, in accord with A.C. Hall’s city plan, originally named Bridge Road, anticipating a bridge where McGinnis Point now begins.) Most residents seemed to want a third bridge but did not want it in their neighborhood.

Haller, who liked to write light verse, put it this way:
We need a bridge.
We all agree,
But that’s the end
Of harmony.

We need a bridge.
Where’s it to be?
Ah! That is where
We disagree....
Frustrated, he ended:
How reconcile
These differing views:
The bridge? Forget it!
Use canoes!

Also, Mayor Haller was intensely involved in the big debate over building a commercial town center, also designed in A.C. Hall’s original plan and strongly supported by the Roosevelt Interests. It was the town center issue that would be the most contentious of Haller’s administration, and by the time it passed in 1985, commercial investors were no longer interested.

Debates over development went beyond the controversial commercial center to the size of multi-family dwellings, including not only new condominium proposals but also motels. In 1980, there was a “new provision” in the zoning ordinance, which  “while maintaining the allowable density of ten living units per acre, permits density to be varied on specific lots in a subdivision up to a maximum of 15 living units per acre in order to achieve best use of land and terrain, provided the average density of the entire subdivision does not exceed 10 living units per acre.” This provision would ease the way for developers who were about to build condominiums, while still controlling the size of those complexes. But, it would not end the units-per-acre debate, and in 1980, about three years after Haller had left office the first time, the density would be limited to eight units per acre.

But, this restrictive zoning decision did not end debate. Its application to motels caused a lawsuit against the town by owners of the John Yancey Hotel. In 1984, Mayor Haller, once again in office, helped resolve the case; commissioners agreed to increase the number of bedroom units allowed per acre to 22.

Another troublesome issue that would come up during Mayor Haller’s tenure was the problem of flooding in eastern sections of Pine Knoll Shores. This one would remain unresolved, but there were big accomplishments during Haller’s years in office. For example, the proposed Marine Resource Center became a reality, opening in 1977. Haller had an even more direct hand in establishing rescue squads and a fire department as well as in building a new town hall, dedicated in May 1979. 

Susan Phillips took this photo from the Dedication program provided by Sue Haller Balmat.

Over the years, both Ken and Newell Haller were big supporters of the Shoreline newspaper. Newell wrote for the paper and also was part of a team who collated pages for its delivery. Ken presented a resolution in March 1976 officially thanking founding editors Mary Doll and Betty Hammon. So, it was an especially sad occasion in June 1978 when he had the sad task of announcing that Shoreline editors could no longer continue. Publication of the paper was discontinued, but Haller predicted, correctly, that it would “...rise Phoenix-like to carry on the traditions established....” When it started up again in 1979, it did so with financial support from the town.

In 1982, when George Eastland was sick and could no longer serve as Shoreline editor, Ken Haller agreed to become a co-editor with Noel Yancey. Both Eastland and Haller saw one of the paper’s functions as keeping a record of the town’s history as well as keeping residents aware of current town issues and events.

Ken Haller believed so firmly in the importance of keeping a record of the town’s history that he wrote a book on the subject in 1985. It covered the years 1973 to 1985. As mayor in 1974, he declared May 9-15 Historical Preservation Week in Pine Knoll Shores. 

As we know, Ken Haller also also liked poetry and would sometimes publish colloquial poems. Over the years, some appeared in the Carteret News-Times and the Shoreline. Here’s one entitled “A PKS Retiree on a Summer Day,” printed in 1980:
The fish ain’t bitin’ in this heat.
The sea’s too warm for swimmin’;
My boat’s laid up, my house is full
Of tea and cards and wimmin.

It’s much too early in the day
To take a nip – I’m certain
The grass needs mowin’, but the thought
Just starts my back ahurtin’.

So what’s to do. Go spread that stuff
To stop those weeds from creepin’? 
I think I’ll rest a bit
And do a little sleepin’.
He ended on a more serious note, reminding residents to vote. 

And, in a 1983 Shoreline, Haller wrote this stanza about residents not showing up at Board of Commissioner meetings:  
If people ignore
These meeting much more
And attendance continues so low,
This indifference may
Bring about a new day
         When Commissioners, too, fail to show!

Headstone in Olivet Cemetery, Frederick, Maryland.
Photo supplied by Susan Phillips from

Ken Haller died December 30,1994. He was 88. His wife, Newell, lived until November 15, 2011. Both are remembered for their major contributions to Pine Knoll Shores. In 1995, Mayor David Hasulak signed a resolution as “a token of appreciation” for all Mayor Ken Haller did and sent Newell a letter indicating that the Board of Commissioners had on February 10 held a moment of silence in her husband’s memory.

Post Author: Phyllis Makuck with research assistance from Susan Phillips.