Hi Marty, My twin brother lives just north of EC and I am from Chesapeake (IR and Grassfield). I couldn't wait to get out of the sticky humid SE VA/NE NC summers. 25 years after moving from 8a to 6b (Christiansburg, VA) and now 7a (Maryland Blue Ridge) I do find myself envying the longer growing season you have and your ability to start tomatoes outside.
Anyways, my recommendation is to try and find a variety that is uniquely adapted for your local environs - like in my case the Shenandoah Pear (originated 20 miles south and west - Kearneysville WV) and the Antietam apple (originated 6 miles west - Keedysville, MD) http://hagerstownmagazine.com/news/how-do-you-them-apples
. For NE NC, you might find some great graft stock from the big nurseries on the Northern Neck of Virginia that is similar in climate to where you are.
We are crazy susceptible to fire blight - I too am starting a brand new fire blight resistant orchard this year with about 20 trees.
Good luck to you!