Hurricane Matthew has claimed at least 26 lives so far, and, if not for help from other areas of North Carolina would probably have claimed a lot more. Several members of the North Buncombe community have been part of the effort to rescue trapped and stranded residents in flooded parts of areas like Lumberton. One of those rescuers is Weaverville Fire Battalion Chief Ray Blackwell.Read more...
Blackwell was down east for five days helping out as part of Buncombe County’s Urban Search and Rescue team assigned to water rescue, which is very dangerous work. Blackwell said that when he left his unit had been credited with rescuing 117 people.
Asked what the biggest surprise in the flood area was, Blackwell replied, “For me it was a couple of things. How fast the water would rise or would actually come up on us. You could just watch it rise. The other, being from this side [rescuer], the preparation on it as far as the folks that lived around there. It seemed like no one was ready for that to come in. It seems like it took them all by surprise even though they were calling for it.”
“We got deployed (on a) Saturday...and we were actually working while the storm was hitting...we helped searched some houses. We were in about knee-deep to waist-deep water already...that quick and we got moved on up to Lumberton evacuating houses and we were in waist-deep water again,” recalls Blackwell, “We actually had to detour because we had trees falling 25 to 30 yards away from us. So we were in the middle of it.”
Asked what method of rescue his team used, Blackwell said, “We had Zodiacs (boats) and we could either walk the Zodiacs in or we had engines we could put on them and if it was deep enough we could run the motor.”
“We did some apartment complexes, some housing developments, hotels. We actually had one car that had gotten swept down river...and several people who were on top of their vehicles that we had to go out and get,” said Blackwell when asked what rescues were performed.
Blackwell said he believes that the areas down east will take months to years to recover from this hurricane and the damages sustained from it. “They’ve got a long way to go. There are areas that are just totally underwater down there.”
His advice to people in those flood-like situations? “Turn around, don’t drive through it.”
Other members of the community that the Tribune knows of who have been down to help are Weaverville Brian Grindstaff who works at Skyland Fire Department; Eric Rogers of the training center in Woodfin; and Dan Ramsey of the Jupiter Fire Department.
Last weeks headlines
Hours of testimony and no resolution
By Heather Berry
Weaverville – For approximately eight hours Monday evening, the Weaverville Zoning Board of Adjustment listened to testimonies from both sides of the heated Lake Louise development debate during a public hearing, which, according to state law, is treated as a court of law. After listening to testimonies, the board decided to continue attorney closing remarks, along with a decision for Wednesday, Oct. 19.
Potential revisions to the proposal were introduced during the hearing, including: lighting issues, storm water issues, privacy issues for homes nearest the development, curfew hours for a possible public recreation area and the widening of Quarry Road.
“The good news is, ‘We are not going to drain the lake, and we’re not going to fill it in, and we’re not going to reduce the size of the lake or the park,” developer Greg Phillips told the board as he defended the 21-home residential development his company, Mayfair Properties, has planned for the corner of Quarry Road and Lakeshore Drive.Read more...
Two residents with properties adjacent to the proposed development provided opinions about the project and faced aggressive questioning from developer Greg Phillip’s attorney, Craig Justus, in the crowded town hall community room. Attorney Bill Brazil represented the Lake Louise Preservation Association (LLPA).
“I’m in Weaverville, because I was born here,” said Phillips. He went to explain how his company has been developing properties in and around Weaverville for 25 years, listing several of the residential projects his company, Mayfair Properties has created, including the 15-year-old Water’s Edge, a small housing development directly across from Lake Louise on Merrimon Avenue. Phillips told the board how the Water’s Edge development serves as an example of successful growth.
Phillips went on to say the LLPA had organized a successful public campaign, but accused the group of spreading misinformation. He suggested the group was small and asserted that many LLPA members may not have property deeds in Weaverville. “Do they have a right to speak? I suppose they do,” he continued.
In terms of the recent explosive growth in Weaverville, Phillips said, “I get it. I get in traffic in the morning, I get in traffic at night. I stand in line at the grocery store and I’m waiting for coffee, waiting in line at the bank. I’m frustrated too. I wonder, ‘Where are these people coming from?’”
Phillips went on to discuss population growth as the main cause of the area’s development explosion. “My stump speech is humorous, but not,” he told the board. “I think we ought to be having more of a discussion about birth control, and less about zoning.”
Michael Watkins, who lives at 119 Lakeshore Drive, expressed privacy concerns to the board in relation to the new homes. In particular, Watkins said he was concerned about the new backyards butting up to his property and the possibility of his property being in between the new homes and a new potential recreation area.
“I want to know how they intend to keep people off my property,” said Watkins. “If both sides don’t have a fence, what’s to stop them from coming on my property?” he added. Watkins also expressed concerns about a possible recreation area having a curfew.
Brazil’s questioning of Watkins revealed the new homes would be level with Watkins’s second-floor windows, because of elevation.
Attorney Justus asked Watkins, upon questioning, if he had a copy of his property deed at the meeting. Justus pressed Watkins to describe the boundaries of his property using a map of the Lake Louise area dated from the early 1900s, when Lake Louise was called Lake Juanita.
When asked by Justus, if Watkins would accept the proposed development if the Lake Louise curfew of 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. was a condition imposed on the new housing, Watkins responded, “No, I won’t.”
Conley Hyer, who lives at 91 Lakeshore Drive, was also questioned. Hyer told the board he had concerns about the proposed widening of Quarry Road, which would be a necessity with the development. The widening would move toward Hyer’s property easement, bringing the road closer to his home.
Hyer said he was concerned about the lighting, noise and the road widening. While Hyer said he would prefer keeping Quarry Road as it is, he did acknowledge he may accept some lighting conditions as part of the board’s development approval.
Weaverville - This weekend will be a loud one for downtown Weaverville. Rodney’s Auto Service hosts the last car show of the season Oct. 6 and the 12th annual Cops for Kids Bike Run is set for Oct. 8. Both events work together each fall and raise money for those in need by drawing on a local love for vintage cars and iconic motorcycles. Rodney’s ends his summer season of charity-driven car shows, while the Weaverville Police Department begins their annual toy drive as we head into the holiday season. Rodney is donating all funds raised at this last car show to the police department’s toy drive.Read more...
“It’s a been a good year when it comes to prospering local charities and we encourage everyone to come out for this last one Thursday,” said Rodney Edwards, owner of Rodney’s Auto Service and founder of Rodney’s Bike and Cruise Night. “Everyone needs to come out for this last car show and the police department’s toy run Saturday,” he added.
Since 2003, the Weaverville Police Department has hosted the Cops for Kids Toy Drive. The event kick-off is scheduled the second Saturday of October and fills Weaverville’s Main Street with hundreds of motorcycles. Toys collected between the kick-off through December are used to fill stockings for area underprivileged children. Registration for the annual Bike Run begins at 9 a.m. The annual parade starts at noon and includes lunch and door prizes. The ride begins and ends at O.T.S. Corporation building, 220 Merrimon Ave. in Weaverville. The entry fee is $10, or a new, unwrapped toy per person.
“We are excited every year to be able to be a part of something that involves so many people in the community coming together for such a great event,” said Sergeant Andy Mace, who organizes the event each year. We were able to help 125 children last year have Christmas, that would not have normally had Christmas.”
Hopefully Rodney’s car show success for 2016 will rub off on the police department toy drive. “This charitable season was a good one,” said Edwards. Rodney’s vintage car/motorcycle show has been around for more than 10 years and always offers live music, food and beverages. When asked how much money the car shows have raised over the course of the 2016 summer, Edwards was unable to say. “Oh Lord, I couldn’t tell you. We’ve had a really good summer,” he said. “It started off slow, with the weather and everything, but the past three or four have done really well,” he added.
Edwards said he felt somewhat bittersweet to see the season end.
“We just have the one more for this year and that’s benefiting the Cops for Kids Toy Bike Run this Saturday,” Edwards said. “That’s it until next April, when we start up again.”
“I appreciate Rodney and all his efforts, along with the countless other volunteers, civic organizations and businesses that help us every single year,” said Mace. “Of course a very special ‘Thanks’ goes to all of the bikers, who come out and open their hearts and wallets for the local children,” he added.
In terms of which individual car shows brought the biggest crowds, Edwards said the Sept. 29 event drew some big numbers and big donations. “The last two or three car shows have been super,” said Edwards. “We’ve done two shows each month since April.”
The 2016 car show fundraisers have raised money for area Vietnam veterans, breast cancer awareness and a slew of other charities. “I couldn’t name all the charities we’ve raised money for this season,” Edwards said.
The fundraiser tried something new this July with a car show dedicated to the police department’s Christmas toy drive. “We raised money for Cops for Kids with a ‘Christmas in July’ this year,” Edwards said. “That was the first time we did that, and had a great turnout.”
One of the other recent car shows, held Sept. 8, benefited the Asheville breast cancer non-profit, the Hope Chest for Women. Edwards said this show drew large crowds and donations.
“We’ve had a great time doing these car shows and giving back to our community,” Edwards said.
For more information on this year’s Weaverville Police Department’s Cops for Kids Bike Run, call 828.645.5700 or visit: www.weavervillecopsforkids.com.
Visit our Advertisers
Get great newspaper and internet coverage from a local communinty newspaper with a great readership and with great local websites!