The CSS Neuse is the only existing vessel of its kind. It is a replica of a Confederate ironclad in full scale. The non-profit organization in charge of taking care of it is the CSS Neuse Foundation. It expands and maintains the Neuse II. The vessel is an educational tool for students and interested parties. It preserves a rich history for future generations. Directors The foundation is managed by great minds. The directors take charge of daily events and they make sure the foundation runs smoothly. They also make sure the Neuse II is well taken care of.
The directors at the foundation are:
1. David Mooring – The President
He used to be an agricultural teacher. He participates in many activities in Kinston and Lenoir Counties.
2. John Nix – The Vice President
He is a licensed Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) He co-owns a surveying firm in Kinston. He has worked on the foundation since it started in 2002. He was president of the foundation in 2010.
3. Betty Hines – Treasurer
She works for the State Employees Credit Union.
4. Mike Parker – Secretary
He is originally from East Carolina. He used to work as an English instructor before the foundation. He is academically and personally interested in the War Between the States.
5. Gary Hines – Assistant Treasurer
He is a firearms instructor and Civil War skirmisher. He is the go-to guy in giving tours of the Neuse II.
6. Joe Dawson
Joe is a Lenoir County native. He has lived in Lenoir County for the majority of his life. He earned a living as a postal worker. He has worked with Salute! Together with his wife, Mary Beth Dawson, they host a number of productions for locals. He continuously volunteers at the foundation.
7. Doug Williams
He is familiar with the original CSS Ram Neuse. He grew up taking part in various activities from the vessel. Some include fishing and swimming. He witnessed the removal of the gunboat from the Neuse River. He has historical knowledge of the area. He is also equipped with a personal experience that is vital to the foundation.
8. Joe Hargitt
He owns the King’s Restaurant. The eatery is historic in Kinston County. Joe is also the manager at his restaurant. He has incredible organizational skills. These are useful when the foundation is fundraising. In 2018, he was the Chamber’s ‘Citizen of the Year’.
9. Eric Cantu
Eric is passionate about honoring veterans of the United States of America. He designed and built the Lenoir County Vietnam Memorial. This memorial is in Neuseway Veteran’s Park. It is on the corner of Mitchell and Gordon streets.
10. Carol Ipock Cantu
She assists veterans at G.I. Joe’s Living History Museum. She works as a real estate agent. She was an educator on the CSS Neuse II.
11. Chris Raines
He is a graduate of Lenoir County College. He works at Caswell Developmental Center. He is the Logistics Coordinator full time. He has lived his whole life in Lenoir County, which makes him a native. By the time he was eight years old, he was performing on stage. He has worked on many shows in the community. Some of the roles he is involved in are;
12. Gary Kennedy
Gary is a Deep Run native. He is the owner of the Sawdust Shop. The shop has been operational since 1984. He also operates the shop. Gary is dedicated to life in service. He has worked as;
· A volunteer firefighter for 51 years
· An EMT for 20 years
· A Boy Scout leader for 25 years
He serves as an educator at the CSS Neuse Foundation. He also has a membership to the Galley Crew.
The CSS Neuse Foundation partnered up with Ironclad Races Inc. to host the event. Usually, seating would be on the boat. The need for social distancing however forced change on this. This year the event was called “Breakfast AT the Boat” instead of “on the Boat”. The tables were set up on the grounds outside to allow for social distancing. This was because of the coronavirus pandemic. The menu comprised of; · Scrambled eggs · Bacon · Biscuits · Link sausage · Grits · Beverages Entertainment was provided by “The Gunboat Boys”. The band has a one of a kind music styling. They fashion their tunes to periodic Civil War music. They also played bluegrass favorites for breakfast attendees.
Wings Over the Neuse is a fundraiser event. It has been held for 12 years at the Lenoir County Farmer’s Market. The event involves serving chicken wing plates to attendees. This year’s event was held on September 11th. The Galley Crew Cook Team helps out each year. They are the team that cooks the chicken wings for the event. This year’s wings sold at record numbers.
The CSS Neuse II requires effort from all members of the community. This has been the way since its construction. People from all backgrounds helped in building the vessel up. There were even more who gave donations in support.
Access to the vessel is not charged. The people who visit can however leave donations. These help the foundation to maintain the CSS Neuse II. The foundation has other ways of making money. This small revenue stream is received from the sales of branded merchandise. Some of the goods sold include;
The foundation depends on sales and donations to enhance and maintain the gunboat. It also allows the vessel and museum to not charge any fees to visitors. The community and foundation keep the historic vessel open for all to access.
The Neuse II is a great reminder of a past filled with war stories. It is a physical representation of freedom and life as we know it. It holds so much history in its iron. It has also become a way for the residents of Kinston to unite. It gives them something to volunteer their time. The gunboat opens from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There are private tours that require making an appointment.