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Population Zooms in Hoke County in Decade's First Half

Hoke County's population is up more than 25 percent since 2000, and changes at nearby Fort Bragg are expected to bring more people looking for the homes that are rising rapidly.

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Wake County has the 14th-fastest growing population in the United States, and Mecklenburg County is No. 23 when you go by people added from 2000 to 2006. If you go by percentage of increase, however, Hoke County outstrips them both.

Hoke County's population is up more than 25 percent. Long predominantly rural, it now ranks 89th among the fastest-growing counties in America. Nowadays, Hoke is where country roads can now take you home to cul-de-sacs.

The new face of Hoke County is young families devoid of Southern accents and with children who answer to really hip names.

"This is Alistica and this is Emilyn,” says Desiree Woodworth, introducing her daughters who moved to Hoke County with their mom and Fort Bragg-stationed dad last year.

Another new face in Hoke is the Bradford pear tree, blooming white where cotton once did. They're popular trees with developers and are being planted in new subdivisions named for the old trees of the region.

“You have the Hollies, the Pines, the Oaks and the Maples,” said Mike Sans, construction supervisor for Caviness and Cates,”so there will be a total of about 800 homes.”

From 2000 to July 2006, Hoke County gained 8,657 residents, pushing its population to 42,303.

“Obviously, it's related to Fort Bragg," said County Manager Mike Wood.

Military base realignment is expected to bring a surge of people to the Fort Bragg region in the coming years, and Hoke County is in the middle of it.

“The land prices are very good,” Wood said. “You can purchase a lot of real estate here, maybe get a little more than you can in other areas (and) rural, neighborly nature.”

The rural, neighborly nature isn't all gone. Alistica's mom is trying to keep it strong.

“Everybody here gets together and has barbecues, a big community thing,” Woodworth says.

As Hoke County has gained population, neighboring Cumberland County has lost residents. In the same six-year period, Cumberland lost 3,902 people.

The growth in Hoke has come with a cost. Last year, the county raised taxes for the first time in a decade to accommodate all the newcomers.


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